A Book Review: Homecoming

February 5, 2011
By Somika PLATINUM, Pilot, Virginia
Somika PLATINUM, Pilot, Virginia
20 articles 6 photos 17 comments

Favorite Quote:
Don't be afraid to fail because only through failure do you learn to succeed.

In this I will bring you step by step through each chapter in Homecoming. Chapter 1: Chapter 1 The main characters, Dicey and siblings, are abandoned at a mall parking lot by their mom. After going in at night after the mall is closed to make a phone call to a train company to ask about prices a police officer sees her and starts to chase her when she runs. He thinks she has broken into the mall and had stolen stuff a couple nights before. They go sleep in a small forest. Chapter 2: Chapter 2 After waking up Dicey decides to start to walk to Bridgeport and hope that their mother is at their aunt’s house waiting for them. With her siblings at her side and finally persuading Sammy (one of the siblings) to come they head off. To try to pass the time they sing songs and pretend to be soldiers. James and Dicey start talking about the past and how the other children had teased him. Dicey is surprised to hear about this because she was never teased. When Sammy starts to refuse to move Dicey carries him on her back. After eating a small dinner they find an abandoned house where they spend the night. Looking at her map before going to sleep she sees they have walked 6 miles she rethinks how long it will take them and she decides on two weeks. Chapter 3: Chapter 3 Before starting off the children start to imagine what Aunt Cilla’s house is like when James starts to mention that their mother might not be there Sammy attacks him. After getting him off James Dicey turns with Mary Beth and all the children start walking after them through the heat off the day. After spending the night in pine trees, they set out in the rain to buy food and worry about the little money they have left after their purchase. That night they stay in an unfinished house.
When morning comes, they have to cross a river. Worn out Dicey buys food at a store, and when bringing it to her family it starts to rain. Sammy tired, wet, and hungry refuses to move. Grabbing his hand Dicey makes him move on until they find a public beach where they build a fire. After singing songs around the fire the younger children start to question their mother. Dicey tells them that she is lost them remembering their father she tells them good memories she has of him and she makes up some lies to make them think that he was a really good person. Once again, they discuss the teasing that happened. Dicey finds out Sammy was teased the worst. Chapter 4: Chapter 4 In the morning they make a trip to a state park. At a nearby store they buy fishing supplies. Dicey decides that she needs a map she buys one at the store also. They have almost no money left. They go out and collect clams and mussels in which they eat. Restless at night, Dicey walks on the state parks beach and meets a couple named Louis and Edie. The couple thinks Dicey is a boy named Danny who ran away from home like they did.
The next day, while Dicey is washing clothes with Maybeth while Sammy is fishing when bored, James starts to climb rocks. When he falls, Dicey rushes to his side thinking he had a concussion. While James lies down, the others eat on the fish that Sammy has caught. Taking the children to the park so that James can have some peace and quiet, Dicey, Marybeth, and Sammy meet Louis and Edie. Going along with Dicey’s belief it would be safer if they thought she was a boy, they pretend Dicey is a boy named Danny. Edie and Louis start to talk about how they stole money from their parents and start to rudely tease each other, as the children listen uneasy to their words. That evening they eat clams and potatoes before falling asleep on the beach. Chapter 5: Chapter 5 Next morning as they wake up James states that he is too ill to travel. Dicey suspects he is lying but is too worried for his health and is complied to stay. Edie comes to their spot with an autoharp and entertains them with the music. Dicey and Marybeth then head out to fish and collect clams. Sammy comes but refuses to work and heads to the playground. When Dicey come back to camp she sees that Sammy has stolen from a picnic table. After scolding Sammy, the family decides that they have to eat the food. Edie and Louis come to visit and tell of a man who was angry about his food being stolen. Edie and Louis think it was them and starts to talk about how little rights children have. The next day James again complains of not feeling well and they agree to stay again. After playing in the park Sammy comes back with more food and a wallet. Angry Dicey takes him to the spot where he found the wallet and food. Seeing that the owners are gone Dicey flings the wallet back but keeps the food. That night they sing and dance but there joyfulness is broken by red car lights of a police car. The children leave their spot to sleep on the playground. Chapter 6: Chapter 6 The children are woken by another police car in the morning. Terrified, they hide in the bushes as the police officers look at the site where the children had stayed. They decided to quickly leave the park grounds. Around noon they stop to rest Dicey then realized that she has left her map at the site. Worried she goes to a gas station and asks for a fifty cents map for twenty five cents (all the money they have left). Desperate for a map she offers to work for the other money and ends up washing the windows. When the task is completed she has earned a map and a quarter. Hungry, Dicey instructs Sammy to go into a bakery and try to get the owner to pity him and give him baked goods for only fifty cents. Sammy manages to get a pie and several roles which they eat hungrily before sleeping by a small creek.
Without money in the morning Dicey decided that they will have to move on with no breakfast. No one complains about the lack of food. Dicey starts to fell like there is no hope when they arrive at a bridge with no sidewalk. She crouches down and starts to dream of her bringing food in heavy bags out to her family. Suddenly she comes up with an idea to earn money by carrying groceries to people cars. They earn five dollars and buy food in which they eat hungrily. They later reproach the river. Marybeth starts to sing “The Water is wide” which inspires Dicey to go and get a boat to cross the river. As night falls they get into a boat and paddle across the river. Tired they fall asleep in a cemetery. Chapter 7: Chapter 7 Deciding in the morning that they need to go to route one, they explore a bit before starting off. Dicey finds a poem which she at first disagrees with then starts to understand it. The poem is about a grave being a home. They spend many days walking and sleeping where they can. Each day they seem to grow more withdrawn and more obedient to Dicey. Soon Dicey discovers they have once again run out of money. Determined to cross the city by night Dicey ignores their money problem. AS they past Yale’s campus night begins to fall. Stopping at a bush in a park they sit down to sleep, but Dicey decides to keep watch on a nearby bench. Unable to stop it, she starts to cry. A young man named Windy sits beside her. He explains that he is a college student at Yale and has been lost before, like Dicey. Dicey is surprised by his kindness and tells him what is happening. He then offers to take them to a dinner and take them his dorm for the night. Dicey happily agrees. When the others go to bed in the dorm, Dicey stays up and tells her story again to Windy and his roommate Stewart. Chapter 8: Chapter 8 When waking up Dicey take a hot shower. While the younger kids take their showers, Stewart offers to drive them in his car to Bridgeport. When Windy asks Stewart for money Stewart finds where he has put his money gone. Dicey looks at Sammy but Sammy shakes his head. Looking around confused Dicey sees James looking guilty. After asking James if he stole the money, he admitted to the crime. Dicey starts to yell at him for stealing. Before heading to Bridgeport, they eat breakfast at a nearby city called Fairfield and pick up a map of Bridgeport. Looking at the map they found Ocean Drive which was the street their great aunt lived on. Dicey is disappointed by finding out that Ocean Drive was not near the ocean that she loved so much. Feeling bad for her, Stewart drives them to the beach against Sammy will. After driving to the house address, the children get out staring unhappily at the small flat house where they had expected a grand white house to be and walked up to the house’s door and knocked. Chapter 9: Chapter 9 Nobody answered Dicey’s knock. They deiced to sit and wait on the steps for their great aunt Cilla. While waiting they start to talk about their mother leaving. A few people stop to look at them while most just busy on. The same lady keeps on approaching then hurrying away. Evidently, the lady walks up to them scared and questioning why they are there. After learning who Dicey and her family are the lady lets them inside her house. Telling their story to the women, they finally tell Sammy that their mother is not here causing him to start to cry. Introducing herself as Cousin Eunice their aunt’s daughter, she hurries to the kitchen to call Father Joseph, Cousin Eunice fiend and her priest. When all the children go to bed but Dicey they ask them after her family and about starting the others in school and day camps. While talking about her family Dicey discovers that she has no other know relatives. She has a grandmother but they have not heard from her. Before she falls asleep she repeats to herself the bits of her grandmother’s address. Chapter 10: Chapter 10 Early in the morning Dicey is woken by cousin Eudnice who is about to go to early mass. She tells Dicey what will be going on that day. When she leaves Dicey starts to clean the house as she was instructed. After serving the children breakfast Dicey goes to the grocery store to buy food and a cheap red rubber ball for Sammy, with money their cousin has left. Father Joseph later brings some clothes for them. The younger children then go to camp and to school leaving Dicey alone. When Father Joseph comes back he does not have the other children instead he has brought a sergeant names Gordo to collect information to help find their mother. After Gordo leaves Dicey awaits Father Joseph return with her siblings. All of them report that they like school. When their cousin comes home Dicey questions her about her job and reports to her what she cleaned as she reports she realizes she has forgotten to do many things. With a promise to make Dicey a key tomorrow and permission to look in the albums all of them go to bed. Chapter 11: Chapter 11 In the morning Dicey is instructed to come down to the police house to look at pictures that might be her mom. None of them are to Dicey relief (the people in the pictures were all dead). Dicey begins to worry that her family may be drifting apart. She looks at the albums and finds pictures of people in her family she never knew. Father Joseph later asks to speak with Dicey. Dicey is worried that something is wrong. He tells her more about the people in the photos and speaks of adoption and fostering the children to different families. He says that Sammy is a difficult child, Marybeth is behind her grade, and Dicey being older are reasons why they will be harder to find a home for. On the other hand he thinks James will be easy since he is so smart. Receiving a check for her mother’s car they had found in sold Dicey puts it in a shoebox. Over many days she starts to wonder about how to earn money then comes up with an idea to wash windows and six different stores earning her 30 dollars per week. At the dinner table Dicey finds out that Sammy has been in a fight so, cousin Eudnice decides to send him to his room for punishment. When the others are in bed Dicey finds out that her cousin wants to become a nun therefore she cannot take care of them. When cousin Eudnice decides to quit her dream and take care of them she announces to Dicey that she can adopt them, but that she is worried that she will not be able to handle Sammy or Maybeth. Dicey fells like crying even though she knows that she should be glad. Chapter 12: Chapter 12 As the year passes by, Dicey’s anger starts to grow to the way cousin Eudnice’s church friends keep speaking about Marybeth good luck and looks. One Sunday afternoon after getting Maybeth from the church friends Dicey decides it is time to talk to Sammy about his actions as the camp. Sammy then promises to try to act better. Maybeth brings home a note asking Dicey to come to the camp to speak to one of the nuns, angrily Dicey rips up the note and says she will not go but in the end she decides to go. There the teacher asks her to look at Maybeth on the playground. Dicey sees that she is looking at a teacher playing guitars hands instead of clapping with the others. When the song is finished she looks frighten and goes to simply stand by the swings. The teacher recommends Maybeth is put in a special education school, but Dicey won’t hear of it. After picking up Maybeth and seeing Sammy has been in another fight this time with a kid saying he was going into a foster home, Dicey decides to look at running away again. That night the police officer comes and says that he has located their mother and that she is in a mental hospital with catatonic (when one will not respond to anything). In the morning she spends a lot of time with her family before the next day when she has a plan leave for her grandmother’s house. After dropping then at school/camp, she packs her things to leave and writes a note explaining. When she opens the door she finds James sitting on the stoop, he then announces he is coming too. Chapter 13: Chapter 13 Beginning with a bus ride, the Tillerman family is once more out in the world. After forty minutes they get on another bus where Dicey finally begins to relaxes but her stress starts back up when she finds out they missed the bus to Cambridge and have to get on the bus to Annapolis or wait five hours. She decides to go ahead on to Annapolis. Arriving at Annapolis, they look for a park. After eating ice cream for dinner, they walk down a street and find an empty house in which they sleep in the yard. Marybeth reminds them of Stewart’s song. Dicey says they cannot sing but she wished they could. Chapter 14: Chapter 14 When waking up to morning’s sun, Dicey brings her family to the Army-Navy store to buy a few items and goes to a small restaurant to eat breakfast. After eating they wander around the town that is mostly made of brick. While sitting on the pier, they notice a few boys scrubbing the deck of a boat. Being invited on board they start to talk about the boat and its owner. Toward the end of their conversation, James and Dicey mention that they have to go across the bay. The boy’s comptemplate but then agree that the next morning they would row them over. When they lay down at night an old problem of money enters Dicey’s head, they have enough but when will it run out? Chapter 15: Chapter 15 When the sun starts to climb in the sky, Dicey wakes up and talks to Sammy about her plan of leaving them before she and her family go to the dock to wait for the boys they had met yesterday to come. While they are waiting Dicey buys some food for them to eat. When Jerry and Tom (the boys they met yesterday) come the get on board ready to sail off. Dicey and James are instructed with simple tasks to help them start the boat. During the trip Dicey relaxes and goes to sleep. When waking Dicey asks the boys if she can try to steer the boat since the wind has died done and they are moving slowly. When the wind starts to pick back up in speed, she moves to working the Genoa line. Soon they spot houses marking another hour to go. Reaching land they depart to go to find a Crisfield. Finding a marshy beach they set up camp for the night. Chapter 16: Chapter 16 After eating breakfast, Dicey and her family plan a route to go. After peering into a circus tent, James gets yelled at by a lady who is later introduced as Claire. A man named Will comes to rescue you them. He explains he is the circus owner and then Clair has a bad temper. They in turn tell their story to Will but they leave out a few parts. Leaving Will and Claire they go to a creek to set up camp and fish. On the way they see a Pickers wanted sign. Dicey considers this as a way they might be able to raise money. Chapter 17: Chapter 17 Waking early Dicey has decided to try to get work at one of the fields. Going up to one Dicey and her family fell strange. There they meet a strange man named Rudyard who says he put out an ad for the picking job. They spend all day picking away. Maybeth and Sammy help a bit. Towards dinner the man brings then some biscuits that no one can eat. They end up throwing the biscuits into a field. Rudyard tied up his dog to a tree after they tell him they cannot work anymore. Wandering away Rudyard calls out that if they run the dog will chase then breaking the rope tie him to the tree. Dicey decides to chance the dog and try to run. Instructing her family to run when she says to, she starts the man’s truck and sends it down the road to the barn. They run into the water. Looking back they see the dog sniffing the ground. They quickly cross the river. Before going to sleep Dicey finally realizes what the dog was doing. It was so hungry it was eating the biscuits they had thrown earlier. Chapter 18: Chapter 18 When they are all awake they head to a big town trying to avoid the man. Leaving a store after buying lunch they see the man and start to run. They once again run to were the circus is. They run into one of the tents when Sammy falls. To give Sammy time to run Dicey turns around to face the man and his dog. The man makes Dicey fall when three white terriers come and start fighting with the dog. Claire is suddenly there cracking her whip at the dog. Mr. Rudyard tries to claim that they are his foster children. Claire refuses to believe him and cracks her whip at him to make him leave. Will comes to them when the man leaves and asks them to tell him what happened. Will invites them to travel with the circus until they reach Crisfield where their grandmother is, gladly they accept. They sleep on Claire’s trailer that night. The next morning Will takes Dicey into town to buy clothes and speak to his friend the Reverend about Rudyard. Returning to the circus Dicey finds out that Sammy will be in the show. James, Maybeth, and Sammy enjoy their time at the circus. Dicey doesn’t enjoy the time as much and is bored and lonely Chapter 19: Chapter 19 Today is the day that the Tillerman family must leave the safety of the circus crew and start back on their trip to their grandmother’s house. After helping the circus do a few last things they prepare to leave their life at the circus. Before leaving them Will makes then promise to call if they ever need help. Looking in a phone book, Dicey finds her grandmother’s number is not listed. Asking a person behind a desk Dicey starts to learn about her grandmother’s unpredictable past like when she threw her phone threw a window. Leaving James with Sammy and Maybeth, Dicey walks to her grandmother’s house on an overgrown farm. After being accused of trespassing Dicey starts to talk with her grandmother while eating a can of spaghetti. Dicey pretends that she wants work. When talking to her grandmother Dicey finds that she can be suddenly nice then turn mean in an instant. Leaving to go after her grandmother starts to talk about all her family dying, her grandmother calls out “I know who you are, and you cannot stay here.” Chapter 20: Chapter 20 Slowly Dicey turns around to face her grandmother. Her grandmother proves that she knows that she is her daughter Liza’s daughter. Then suddenly turning nice she invites Dicey to get the others and stay the night at her house. Getting in a boat since there is no car they drive to the pier where Dicey left her siblings. Sammy runs to Dicey and explains that James had walked to the house himself but Sammy had refused to leave. Getting back to the boat they go back to the house and find James and Maybeth waiting for them. James and Sammy leave to check crab traps while Maybeth and Dicey go to see where they will be sleeping. In the rooms there is no evidence that children had once been there. Going to the barn Dicey spies an old sailboat. Dicey tries to talk to her grandmother about the oat but she refuses to speak to Dicey about it. Over dinner their grandmother starts to ask questions about their family. Dicey gets mad and wants to throw something at her but she doesn’t. After dinner the children are happy to go swimming and fishing before going to bed. Chapter 21: Chapter 21 In the morning Dicey awakes and starts to question all of the Tillerman family actions, like her grandmother going behind the house when she knocked, her mother abandoning them, and Cousin Eunice worrying behavior. She decides to try to help her grandmother by making her family do different jobs. Before the sun has risen Dicey and her family creep downstairs to pull down the honeysuckle (their first job Dicey decides) before their grandmother gets up. Heading in to eat, they see that their grandmother has awaken. She invites them to eat and tells them that she liked the honeysuckle. Dicey starts to worry. Their grandmother finally breaks the silence by saying that the vines can’t stay that they have to go to the marsh. Going back to work they sing. As they work on their grandmother brings them cantaloupe to eat. While eating the fruit they think up a plan for that day; first clear the front and around the trees, then eat lunch and take the honeysuckle to the marsh, and end the day with a swim. When it was time to eat lunch, Dicey doesn’t fell right to get stuff out of the kitchen so they eat cucumbers and tomatoes in the garden. Moving the honeysuckle to the marsh in big loads they quickly finish. Dicey doesn’t fell that it is right to burn it without their grandmother being there so they leave it to go swimming. At the dock they see that their grandmother’s boat is missing. Back to pulling honeysuckle the Tillerman’s start on the beside of the house while Dicey goes into the barn to look for tools they could use to shape the honeysuckle on the barn since her grandmother likes it. Dicey soon finds a pair of clippers to use. Their grandmother returns to bring in groceries. She sees their work and is pleased but reminds then to be careful to put the clippers up properly so that they will not rust. Soon it is the end of the day.
On the second day they pulled down the rest of the honeysuckle and start to work on repairing the porch screens. Their grandmother says that it is time to move on but they say they must stay to finish the work. They end the day with swimming.
On the third day they finish the screens and start to work on the front porch. Sammy and Maybeth waxed and mopped the floors. James and Dicey accidently come upon a library. Their grandmother sees then and asks then if they will be leaving. Dicey starts to give out a whole list of things they still have to do. Their grandmother plainly states that it is going to rain. Dicey’s heart sinks. That night Dicey sees that Maybeth arm looks different. Dicey is worried and doesn’t know what to do.
The next day (forth day) Dicey decides to clean out the barn. They sneak downstairs trying not to wake their grandmother but are surprised when they find she is already awake. Their grandmother is pleased at their surprised and tells then to go and pick tomatoes, squashes, and cucumbers. They work quickly so that they will not be in the rain for long. Coming in to eat breakfast their grandmother sees that something is wrong with Maybeth’s arm. Their grandmother bandaged up Maybeth’s injured arm and asks for help in the kitchen. After canning tomatoes and polishing the windows Dicey notices that Sammy is gone. Afraid, she runs to her grandmother, who she finds, is writing a letter to their Cousin Eunice. Soon Sammy comes in soaked saying he checked the crab pots and bailed out the boat so that it wouldn’t get hurt in the storm. Their grandmother says that Sammy needs to be punished. Dicey disagrees and they start to argue. Chapter 22: Chapter 22 Waking up they head to the barn to try to fix it up. They are later interrupted by a car horn. They look out to see Claire’s car. They run outside to greet Claire and Will. Their grandmother approaches and Dicey introduces her. Over lemonade they talk about who Claire and Will are. They find out that their grandmother or Ab had a son named Samuel but was nicknamed Bullet. Claire and Will then present their gift of bicycles for all of them. They happily thank them for their gifts. To thank them they invite Claire and Will to lunch. When they leave Sammy goes off to ride his bike and Maybeth goes to help clean up. James and Dicey talk about staying and about school. Soon it has been two hours and Sammy has not returned. Dicey is once again worried for him. When he comes home happy their grandmother tries to send him to bed without dinner but Dicey won’t hear it. Dicey instead punishes him not to ride his bike for two days. Sammy says he is sorry to all of them. Then her grandmother then tells then they cannot stay in her house any more. Chapter 23: Chapter 23 Dicey awakes when it is still dark to ponder what will happen since they no longer stay here. She considers going back to Bridgeport. She goes down stairs and sees her grandmother writing a letter to Eunice. Her grandmother then apologizes for yelling. And explains that it is hard and expensive to have them with her. Her grandmother starts to talk about her husband and Dicey’s dad. Her grandmother sends Dicey to bed promising to take care of all of them. Dicey cries herself to sleep.
In the morning Dicey awakes to discover that her grandmother is making bread. Dicey finds that she is enjoy the time with her grandmother. Dicey sadly reports to her grandmother that they will be leaving today but her grandmother will not allow it saying they must stay. Dicey is overjoyed until she hears it is only until her Cousin Eunice writes back. Her grandmother has decided to take them to an island called Jane’s Island. Dicey runs to the dock were she finds her siblings. They tell her that their grandmother told them about their mother never being married. They say that they do not care because she didn’t want to get married.
For two days they work and have fun while they worry about when they will have to return to Bridgeport and their Cousin Eunice. Dicey still takes care of Maybeth’s injured arm during this time as well. Dicey has stopped thinking about the sailboat now that her dream is nearly impossible. She tries to forget so that she can enjoy the last day until she has to go to school. Chapter 24: Chapter 24 Waking up the Tillerman’s find that their grandmother is all dressed up to take them to their first day at school. On the way they talk about a way that they could help make money like growing Christmas trees or sealing some of the vegetables. At the school they talk to the guidance counselor before going on a tour of the building. They return to the office to find out that Dicey is in the wrong school that she has to go to junior high. James will being going into special education for the gifted in fifth grade and Sammy will be put in second. Dicey is worried about Maybeth grade placing. The counselor announces she will do a few simple testes on Maybeth before they place her. As the testing starts Dicey and her grandmother leave to buy groceries. Going out of the store Dicey sees James, Maybeth, and Sammy. Dicey is delighted to hear that Maybeth will be put in third grade. Bringing them into the store they are introduced to Millie the butcher who Dicey had used her phone book to look for their grandmother’s telephone number. Out of the store Sammy asks what they should call their grandmother since they have never called her by anything before. Their grandmother replies to call her “Gram”. Dicey starts to think and fells sad that they will soon leave. Then she relies that the letter was never mailed. Dicey then asks if they can stay forever. Her grandmother says yes if they help her with growing Christmas trees and raising chickens or anything else. Then she quickly tears up the letter. Dicey then asks about the sailboat she has wanted that is in the barn. Her grandmother says she may have it and that she will teach her how to sail. Then they turn to, after their many months of their long journey, go to a place where they can truly call home.

The end of Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt

The author's comments:
This was my English project for school.

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