WHERE I’D LIKE TO BE by Frances O’Roark Dowell
Kirkus Star


Age Range: 10 - 14
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An orphaned girl creates, with friends, a remarkable shelter that allows them to dream of a permanent home. Maddie has resigned herself to life in the East Tennessee Children’s Home, figuring that “there wasn’t much chance anyone was going to adopt an 11-year-old girl as plain-Jane as me.” She keeps her hopes up by cutting out photographs of houses and pasting them in her Book of Houses in anticipation of a house of her own. When the charismatic, opinionated, and secretive Murphy arrives at the Home, Maddie determines to be her friend. In short order, their group expands to include Donita and Ricky Ray, two other children from the Home, and Logan, the lonely and misfit son of a local judge; together they decide to build a fort in Logan’s backyard. With a fair degree of help and luck, they build a solid little fort, within which they dream and tell stories of their homes and families, past, imagined, and hoped-for. Dowell (Dovey Coe, 2000) has created a tremendously appealing heroine and a parcel of equally agreeable secondary characters. Their stories, individual and collective, are poignantly told without ever becoming maudlin, and the way these lonely children come together to make their own home and family is truly lovely. When Murphy’s yearning for a place outside of their little society causes a jealous Maddie to threaten it altogether, readers will find themselves hoping as hard as Maddie that it will all come right in the end. The talky, pie-in-the-sky resolution mars the tightness of the narrative that precedes it, but taken as a whole, this is a lovely, quietly bittersweet tale of friendship and family. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-689-84420-4
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Atheneum
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2003


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