Scattergood, Augusta. The Way to Stay in Destiny.
January 6th 2015 by Scholastic Press
E ARC from Netgalley.com
Theo's parents were killed in a car crash, and his grandmother is unable to care for him after the death of his grandfather, so he ends up in the care of his Uncle Raymond in 1974. For some reason, Raymond decides to move from his job in Alaska, remove Theo from Kentucky, and take him to Destiny, Florida, where the two take a room at Miss Sister's Rest Easy Boarding House and Dance School. There, Theo is given a list of chores (take laundry to the laundromat) and restrictions (don't play the piano!) to complete while his uncle is at work. Luckly, he meets Anabel, who is ditching dance lessons at Miss Sister's in favor of baseball. The two become fast friends, and work on a baseball history project for the town's 100th anniversary celebration. Theo learns a little about why his uncle is so angry, and comes to love the town of Destiny.
Strengths: This was a surprisingly intriguing story, and a fun read. Perhaps I am just a sucker for books set in Florida, in small, beachside communities. Great cover, as well. There isn't a lot of historical fiction set during the 1970s, so the inclusion of the uncle's experience of fighting in Vietnam is interesting. Similar to Three Bird Summer in general tone, this is one that is a bit slow, but very interesting.
Weaknesses: Perhaps I can sell this as a baseball book? There is a glove on the cover, and Hank Aaron is mentioned. Could be a hard sell, but I still think I will buy a copy.
Other beachside community books: Marion Holland's 1957 No Children, No Pets is one of the few books that my mother kept from her early teaching days. It is sitting on my shelf right now, in very good, dust-jacketed condition! From Goodreads.com : "A quite humorous story of the Sanders family, Mother, Don and Jane, four-year-old Betsy, and Victoria the cat off to Florida to take possession of the apartment house they've just inherited."
Carol Ryrie Brink's 1959 The Pink Motel also seems awfully familiar to me! Also from Goodreads.com: "Nothing exciting ever happens to Kirby or Bitsy Mellen--that is, until their mother inherits a motel in Florida from her great-granduncle Hiram, complete with a roster of eccentric guests. New this winter are the Browns, obsessed with their suntans; Miss DeGree, obsessed with her poodles; and two mysterious men, obsessed, like Kirby, with trying to find Uncle Hiram's rumored secret treasure."