A few months ago Cynthia Voigt was unknown to me. Now I have read four of her novels (the first four in the Tillerman cycle) and have been repeatedly impressed. She has a knack for getting us inside the head and heart of the main character. We get to know what he or she says (or leaves unsaid) and why. We see what the main characters do and care about them and their actions. I have finished each book wanting immediately to reread it, to savor how beautifully the story is revealed to the reader. (I have so far resisted the temptation and instead read another book in the cycle.)
One of Voigt's skills is to mine her material in different ways. In Homecoming we meet the four Tillerman children, an aunt, and their grandmother. In Dicey's Song we focus on Dicey, the eldest child, and get to know some of the people the family interacts with. In A Solitary Blue, the boy and his professor father and beautiful, flighty mother are vivid characters and have engrossing stories and lives, but for about two thirds of the book I wondered what do they had to do with the Tillermans. Oh! Jeff (who in the start of the novel is about five) is one of the high school friends of Dicey! Their lives and stories then begin to intertwine. In The Runner we go back to 1967-68 and meet their late uncle "Bullet," properly named Samuel (after whom Sammy is named) and get to see what Dicey's grandparents were like decades earlier than the first two books in the cycle.
Each book is enjoyable and fine all by itself; you can jump in anywhere and do not have to read more than one of the novels. Each offers interesting insights into (and perhaps lessons on) life through how the characters handle challenges, handle risk, reach out or hide. When you combine the books, however, they are even more meaningful, enjoyable, and impressive. Voigt is an amazing talent, one I am recommending to my seventh and eighth grade students and to my adult friends, too.
- Library Binding: 189 pages
- Publisher: Atheneum; Reissue edition (1 September 1983)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0689310080
- ISBN-13: 978-0689310089
- Product Dimensions: 15 x 2.2 x 24.3 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 136 g
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