A while back I read and reviewed “Dicey’s Song,” the second book by Voigt about the Tillerman family. This is the first, and should have been read first, but aside from knowing where it would end up, I have to say I don’t think that harmed my reading experience. These are realistic family stories, but with some pretty amazing adventures in this one. The four Tillerman children—Dicey, James, Maybeth and Sammy—have been abandoned by their mentally ill mother at the beginning of the book, left to sit in the family car in a mall. They search the mall for their mother, but find no sign of her. They had been on the way to their Aunt Cilla’s home in Bridgeport, CT, still many miles away. Their mother has headed there as a last resort, having been evicted from their longtime home on the coast of Massachusetts, with no money and no prospects. Dicey, the oldest, thinks the responsibility of the children has just become too much for their mother. Rather than appeal to the police for help, she decides they are going to walk to Aunt Cilla’s house. This will take at least some weeks, she estimates. They have a little money, but not enough for bus fare, or even food for the trip. Dicey doesn’t know how they will get there, but she’s determined to do it. Determination is her strong suit. The others look up to her now as their leader, and they set off on an epic journey.
That’s only the first third of this large book, the rest is equally amazing. The characters are beautifully written, the plot is full of surprises, some good, some bad, and the children prove to be resourceful and clever enough to actually pull off their mad scheme. It’s a brilliant book, as was “Dicey’s Song.” I’ll have to find the rest of the Tillerman saga.