The week before we left for Oregon, I had gone to the school to pick up Jenna. I was reading a book from my own collection and not the library as the parking lot started to empty. I wondered if she was dawdling again before I realized it was Thursday and she has an after school program. So my choices were to go home and return or continue reading. Or hey, I could just go to the library that was near her school. I chose the latter.
I looked through a few titles before picking up: “Girl’s Best Friend” from the Maggie Brooklyn Mystery series by Leslie Margolis. It was interesting enough, but thought it might be fun for Jenna and I to read together. And so I continued to look for another book before I settled on “A Million Ways Home” by Diana Dorisi Winget. I ended up reading both at the same time and proceeded to mix up the characters and plots – at least in the beginning.
Both involved girls in 6th or 7th grade. Both involved dogs – though Maggie walked dogs in New York while Poppy assisted at a shelter in Washington.
Jenna and I took turns reading aloud from “Girl’s Best Friend” – I often laughed at the wording from story. When I read “A Million Ways Home” it was to myself. I often cried. Not a good book for me personally to read out loud. I really did enjoy it. It was the book I was trying to finish up before we went to Oregon.
The story starts out with Priscilla Parker (who goes by Poppy) in a children’s shelter. She’d been placed there when her grandma had taken ill. She believed that her grandma would get better. She believed that she would be able to care for her when she left the hospital. Her grandma could not return home after the hospital, but was sent to a nursing home to recuperate. Poppy believed she could care for her grandma every bit as good as the rest home. There was so much about her current situation that she did not understand.
Her own parents had been killed before Poppy turned one. She had been left in her grandma’s care for all that time. She tried to make the best of the situation at the shelter, but that’s NOT where she wanted to be.
In searching for her grandmother, and losing her way, Poppy witnesses a crime and is placed in a protective custody with the detective’s mother. Poppy visits her grandmother – sometimes without permission and does her best to continue in protective custody so she doesn’t have to return to the shelter.
I feel for the character. I feel her love. I feel her pain. I understand her choices. I really loved this book.
After we got to Oregon, Jenna asked me, “Who is Grandma Beth?”
The first thing that came to mind was the book “A Million Ways Home” – as the name of Poppy’s grandmother is Beth. But how would Jenna know that? It wasn’t the book that we were reading together. And then it occurred to me that I had mentioned that we’d be visiting “Graham and Beth” and Jenna had heard “Grandma Beth”
We never finished “Girl’s Best Friend” as she seemed to have lost interest and I returned it back to the library two days before it was due. Perhaps we'll check it out again some other time.