This story is told first person by 16 year-old Dulcie. The book begins right after the death of Dulcie’s father. He was a janitor who died after being poisoned when he accidentally mixed some chemicals while cleaning the floor at Dulcie’s high school. Her mother wants a fresh start so she moves Dulcie across the country to California. When her mother decides to sell her dad’s old truck, Dulcie has had it. The truck is the only thing she has left of her dad’s and she is not willing to let it go. Dulcie sneaks out of the house and begins a cross-country journey to return home where she hopes her grandfather will welcome her with open arms.
I know, it sounds like another one of those morbid books, but it’s not. Dulcie and her family have a great sense of humor that kept me entertained. The beauty of the book is in the details. Dulcie stops at a lot of interesting sites on her cross-country trip like the fainting goat farm in Wakeeney, Kansas and The Great American Museum of Custodial Safety in Missouri, and the Maria Stein shrine of holy Relics in Ohio (which is a real place, who knew?). I guess I connected so much because she reminded me a little of myself, I would totally stop at random sites while traveling cross country and I even have a grandfather whose wife has passed away, but still lives on in his home as shown by the pink wallpaper and pink toilet and tub she left behind.
This book was particularly interesting to me after recently reading The Janitor's Boy by Andrew Clement because the main character in The Janitor's Boy is completely embarassed that his dad is a janitor at his school. Dulcie's lack of embarassment was refreshing, she never seemed to mind that her father and grandfather were janitors and even worked as a janitor part-time herself. I thought it was interesting that both kids used their dad’s keys to sneak around the school and both of them were surprised to discover their dad's were secretly helping other kids in need.
Dulcie was a vivid character, and I loved growing along with her in this novel. I think that you will too.