DOTTY'S SUITCASE by Constance C. Greene


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This begins with 12-year-old Dotty Fickett in rare form, lording it over neighbor Jud, who's only eight, teasing him with visions of the exotic journey she will take without him when she gets her long-wished-for suitcase. Dotty is never again in such high spirits, but she does get herself and Jud into a dandy adventure, back in their 1930s' small town where excitement, like money, is hard to come by. With the town buzzing about the bank robbers who have sped off in a black car, Dotty is on hand when a tacky cardboard suitcase is tossed from just such a car. Retrieving it lands her and Jud on the road in a blizzard, picked up by a teenage truck driver who becomes threatening when he discovers that their now-busted suitcase does indeed contain money. They are lost in the storm, befriended by a once-rich hermit who doesn't want the money and gives Dotty a beautiful leather suitcase to keep it in, then shocked when they arrive at the new home, 70 miles from their own, of Dotty's old friend Olive. Since the family moved, Dotty discovers, Olive's father has died of pneumonia and she and her mother are penniless. Moved by their plight, Dotty goes home without the money--it had only come to two hundred dollars--and with a determination not to use the suitcase until Olive can go along with her, maybe to Utica. With simpler characters than those in A Girl Called Al, Greene's characterization itself (especially of Olive and Dotty's older, marriage-crazy sisters) tends to be flat, and she is not as effective with Depression hardship as with broken-home stings. The cold-water shock of Olive's poverty hasn't the impact that seems called for--but neither will you question the details or Dotty's reaction. With the suitcase serving neatly to convey Dotty's changing awareness, Greene has managed a successful, if far from memorable, blend of period nostalgia and back-to-basic values.

Pub Date: Sept. 22nd, 1980
Publisher: Viking