Monday, June 6, 2011

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Grounded

Grounded by Kate Klise (Feiwel and Friends, 2010)
From the Goodreads blurb:

After her brother, sister, and father die in a plane crash, Daralynn Oakland receives 237 dolls from well-wishers, resulting in her nickname: Dolly. But dolls are little comfort to a twelve-year-old girl whose world is rocked by the dramatic changes in her life, including her angry, grieving mother’s new job as a hairstylist at the local funeral home. 
Dolly gets a job, too, where she accidentally invents a fashionable new haircut. But her real work begins when a crematorium comes to town, and someone has to save a dying business, solve a burning mystery, and resuscitate the broken hearts in Digginsville, Missouri, population 402.

Opening line: I'm alive today because I was grounded. Maybe that seems odd to you, but it's true.

What a great start! I'm immediately wanting to know why the narrator's grounding saved her life--and she immediately tells me in the next paragraph: "I was grounded by Mother for going fishing at Doc Lake without her permission. That's the only reason I wasn't in Daddy's plane when it crashed and killed him, my brother, and my little sister."

Hooked? I certainly was. Because I knew at once that I was in the confident hands of a good storyteller. The narrator, Daralynn Oakland, is clever, sassy, and very much her own person. But it's a tall order to cope with the death of so many members of her family. Worse, her mother seems to have died emotionally--or at least the only emotion she is able to display is anger.

Fortunately, Daralynn is surrounded by loving adults, among them her flamboyant aunt Josie, who runs a home for elderly gentlemen and her grandmother, Mamaw, who is slowly losing her grip on reality but can come out with nuggets of wisdom. For her part, Daralynn helps her mother to survive, both financially and emotionally, and in the end saves the town from being fleeced by a flim-flam merchant. She goes from being grounded (punished) to grounded (having roots)--a theme stated explicitly in both the novel and on the cover art.

I loved the style and the story. There were a couple of unusual facets for a middle grade novel--mainly that Daralynn doesn't interact with many children of her own age. Also, the major theme of the novel is how to journey through grief and come out changed.

In its exploration of grief, it reminds me a little of Suzanne La Fleur's Love, Aubrey. This story is most likely to be enjoyed by those I've heard referred to as "tender-hearted readers."

I would definitely read more of Kate Klise!

Here are my compadres in this week's MMGM. Check 'em out too!

Shannon O'Donnell always has an awesome MMGM recommendation. Click HERE to see what she's featuring this week.

-Barbara Watson is doing a special summer of MMGMMs (no--that extra "M" isn't a typo) and she's starting by highlighting THE REMARKABLE AND VERY TRUE STORY OF LUCY & SNOWCAP--and has a GIVEAWAY! Click HERE to see what she thinks.

-Aly Beecher is featuring HOW THEY CROAKED. Click HERE to read her review.

Myrna Foster is spotlighting THE UNOFFICIAL HARRY POTTER COOKBOOK. Click HERE to read her review.

-Deb Marshall is featuring GOSSIP FROM THE GIRLS' ROOM. Click HERE to read her review. 

And, OF COURSE, the fearless originator of MMGM, Shannon Messenger, who reviews CHARLIE JOE JACKSON'S GUIDE TO NOT READING plus a GIVEAWAY, HERE.


  1. Thanks for sharing about this. I haven't heard about this book. I love how you tied the grounded theme into your review. Very good.

    FYI I'm interviewing Elana Johnson today and doing a big giveaway to support the debut of her book tomorrow at Literary Rambles. I hope you'll stop by.

  2. Will for sure get and read this. Suzanne LaFleur's Abby book, as well. I just finished reading the ARC of Suzanne's latest book, Eight Keys. So, so good.

  3. Stories described as tender-hearted are for me (and my daughter too). Thanks for the word on this one; I hadn't heard of it.

  4. Sounds interesting. Putting it on my pile. Thanks!

  5. Thanks for your review. I hadn't seen this one before.

  6. Another one for the TBR list! Thanks for sharing.

  7. I love the cover art so much! Sounds like a great voice in this story, and a little creepy and dark with all the funeral homes and crematoriums, yes? But in an interesting way?

  8. Great post, Michael. I picked up an ARC of this once and thought it sounded too grim. But I really enjoyed LOVE, AUBREY, so maybe I'll give this a try. Thanks!


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