Family ties come through as the keynote of this satisfying and positive sequel to Homecoming, which sees Dicey and her three younger siblings settled on Grandmother Tillerman's Chesapeake Bay farm. With Momma in a mental hospital and local rumors that old Mrs. Tillerman is "Crazy," it's a relief to find Grain a wise and capable, if sometimes eccentric upbringer. Dicey still worries about the younger children's school problems, but she new has help in handling them: Grain visits Sammy's second grade and wins him points by beating all the boys at marbles; and James, a bright and bookish ten, studies methods and teaches slow, shy Maybeth, who's talented in music but failing in school, to read. And, as family troubles present themselves, Grain brusquely counsels Dicey on the variously appropriate policies of holding on, reaching out, and letting go. Eventually the prickly Dicey acknowledges a friend in Mina, a black girl who recognizes that she and Dicey are the two eighth-grade brains, and another in Serf, a tenth-grader with a guitar, who visits for family songfests although Dicey, not ready for dates, turns down his invitation to a dance. Fat Mr. Lingerie, Maybeth's music teacher, becomes another family friend, coming forth with sitting services and money for the undertaker when Dicey and Grain must travel to the children's dying Momma in Boston. The sadness of these final scenes is tempered with the satisfaction of a chapter closed and the knowledge that, as Momma's awkward, mouse-faced doctor says lamely, "It is better this way." Through all the hardships, comforts, and passages, Dicey remains the sturdy presence we met in Homecoming; new she and Gram make a strong, crusty pair, and the other children come along according to their observantly individualized courses. A resilient family and a gratifying journey's end.