Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt

July 27, 2010
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What would you do if your mother abandoned not only you, but also your three younger siblings in the car in the middle of nowhere in an unfamiliar city? When 13-year-old Dicey’s mentally ill single mother leaves her four children in a shopping mall somewhere in Connecticut, Dicey must gather all her strength and courage to take herself – and her family – to her Great-Aunt Cilla’s house, which may be the last place they can call home. With only eleven dollars, Dicey decides they must desert the car – the last fragment of their past lives – and walk the myriad miles to Aunt Cilla’s house. Indubitably, Dicey has to not only take care of herself, but also take care of her younger siblings: 10-year-old James, the smart one, nine-year-old Maybeth, the shy one, and six-year-old Sammy, who refuses to believe his mother has truly left. Dicey repudiates the notion of going to the police for help – for if she does, they will be placed in orphanages and ultimately separated to different foster families. Dicey is determined to think that the most essential thing is they all stay together.

Despite facing many hardships along the path to Aunt Cilla’s house, Dicey is determined to succeed. In due course, they run out of money and have to go several days with an empty stomach. Without shelter or safety, they are forced to spend the nights on front porches, in deserted houses, and in parks. They go without many of the things we take for granted: showers, food to fill our stomachs, beds to sleep in, and most essentially, parents who take care of us and keep our interwoven lives from falling apart.
At one point, Sammy grows so desperate for food that he resorts to stealing a wallet. James, also, faces the same morality problem – When two helpful college students drive them to Aunt Cilla’s house, James is grateful but admits to stealing twenty dollars from one of them. Not only does Dicey have to educate her siblings in ethical ways, she must think of them before herself and comfort their pleas. While many 13-year-old children would have broken down somewhere along the way, Dicey found the strength to keep going until they arrived at Aunt Cilla’s doorstep, where Dicey and her three siblings are hoping to find, at last, a home – perhaps even their mother.

When they finally arrive, they find out that Aunt Cilla has recently passed away and her daughter, Eunice, grudgingly takes them in, but the home they find with her may not be the undeviating home they’ve been searching for. Although she thinks she is ultimately doing the right thing, Cousin Eunice threatens to send the disobedient Sammy to a foster home, while the nuns at Maybeth’s school inform Dicey that her sister is retarded and needs to attend a special school far away. Is having a roof over their heads really worth that much – being separated from each other? Is this really the home they’ve been looking for?

Dicey is sure that home should not be like this. Home should be a place where they can live together without the constant terrorization of separation and perhaps even fulfill the true meaning of family. But is it possible to find the true meaning of home when both of your parents have abandoned you and your three younger siblings? This novel by Cynthia Voigt is the tragic story of a seemingly endless journey to an ultimately satisfying end.

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SkyDeerThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Dec. 14, 2010 at 4:17 pm
Thought this book was awesome!
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