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Nice girl from good home

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Fifteen-year-old Dory, troubled by problems at home and the high expectations her mother has taught her to have, becomes involved in a bomb threat at ... Show synopsis

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Reviews of Nice girl from good home

Overall customer rating: 4.000
majenta

"'I feel like I'm the one identifying the body.'"

by majenta on Jul 15, 2008

I learned about this book through another of Fran Arrick's YA novels, STEFFIE CAN'T COME OUT TO PLAY, which I probably will review here at some point. STEFFIE was about a 14-year-old girl who goes to New York City with dreams of breaking into modeling but things turn out quite differently for her...the kind of plot a title like NICE GIRL FROM GOOD HOME might conjure? Not in this case. It's the story of 15-year-old Dory Hewitt, the younger offspring of Brady and Deborah Cooney Hewitt of King's Point, Missouri (possibly a suburb of St. Louis, Deborah's hometown?). Deborah grew up poor, wanting the things that her wealthier classmates had, but lucky to get homemade imitations if her mother was in the mood to give up her rare downtime really slaving away to make one of Deborah's extravagant wishes come true. Deborah vowed that her own children would want for nothing, and she married a man who could provide well for a wife and children, but she never counted on a reversal of fortune...so didn't know how to deal with one when it came. In fact, she has only kept living--and spending--like it hadn't happened at all, or maybe something had happend, but it could be easily changed if Brady could just figure out what to do about it. Deborah is desperate to "keep up appearances"--when her son Jeremy's best friend Albert Scudder, whose family owns a classy department store in town, stays for supper, she makes sure she spreads a sumptuous table, complete with expensive bakery dessert, so Albert might tell his folks that all is well at the Hewitts', no matter what people might be saying. But all is not well. Brady is trying to get things moving in the right direction, back toward the good life, but not as hard as Deborah is continuing to live the good life. The big Sadie Hawkins Day dance nears (on one of those "once-every-4-years"-type dates, y'know) and Dory HAS to have a new dress, from Scudder's, even if she can't go with her crush, Albert Scudder. It's just as important to Deborah as it is to Dory that she have a new dress, especially the gorgeous one they find...and buy. And are told, by Brady, that they can't afford and must return. "A dress? That's what all this shouting is about?" wonders Jeremy from his bedroom, where he is trying to figure out how he can afford to go to college. A few colleges want him, but not enough to give him a full scholarship with ALL expenses paid, and he's starting to realize what a huge break that would have been. Maybe Jeremy will be the one who pulls his family through... but how? And how soon? Things are really getting bad... Not much later, things are so much worse that Brady actually has to put the house up for sale! Then Hewitt-family life takes on a desperately chaotic ever-shifting shape, and Dory copes by getting involved with "the rough crowd," the ones who crash the aforementioned big dance because in the formal wear some of them somehow got their hands on, they "look just like" the country-club crowd. Actually, it's a member of that crowd who approaches Dory at the dance, but later on when he--Steve Hill--encounters her at school, it's at "one of THOSE times" when a little chat with him is just what she needs. Well, wants, sort of. Steve has his own anger issues and family issues and he deals with them by going the delinquent route and by indulging in SCHAUDENFREUDE while watching the mighty fall. Suddenly Dory fits into this category, so he makes his move! What's the next one? Would you believe Dory comes up with the big one? And pressures Steve and the others, always asking them when they can do this--and finally announcing, "We're doing it tomorrow!" How much power does she have--will it actually happen? And if not--why and how? As in STEFFIE, Arrick lets us see things from multiple views: Dory's, Jeremy's, Deborah's, Brady's, even Steve's. That's a good way to tell a good story, especially when it's done right. And it's done right by Arrick. Publication date: 1984. Think about it...

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