groundedklise

Grounded by Kate Klise

For a girl who never liked dolls, Daralynn sure had a lot of them.  She had gotten over 200 dolls after her father, brother and sister were killed in a plane crash.  She had also gotten her nickname, Dolly, because of them.   Dolly lived with her mother and next door to her grandmother.  After the funeral for her family, Dolly’s mother became the hairdresser for the local funeral home.  Later, she branched out to owning her own salon and doing hair on the living.  It was Dolly who had the big idea to start doing living funerals at the funeral home to make more money.  But then a crematorium was built in town and started taking business from the funeral home, and even worse, started doing living funerals themselves!  Dolly thought there was something strange about Clem, the man who owned the crematorium, and it was up to her to figure out what was really going on.  A mystery with small-town charm, this book is about family, funerals and forgiveness.

Klise’s writing has a folksy cadence to it here that echoes the sounds and feeling of a small town.  There are wonderful transcendent moments where the main character realizes something and Klise writes it with such clarity and perfect pitch.  The conversations between characters feel real and true, giving the book a strong foundation to put a mystery upon.  It is also a very funny book, thanks to Dolly’s wry humor.

Klise has created a small town in this novel that makes the perfect setting for a mystery.  The town and the people who live there are more than a backdrop for the story, they are a real community.  The most fascinating characters are those related to Dolly.  Each of them shows how to deal with life and tragedy in a different way.  They are subtle and tangible reminders of what grief can become.

Dolly is a marvelous character who strives to be good, but is still alive because she was grounded for going fishing without permission.  She is a girl who fishes, does hair, hates dolls, and never quite manages to obey the rules.  In other words, she’s a delight.

Highly recommended, this book would make a wonderful class read-a-loud.  Where it sings is in the relationships it shows, the laughter it provides, and the recovery from loss it allows us to witness.  Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from copy received from Feiwel & Friends.

Also reviewed by Kids Reads.