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Dovey Coe (2000)

de Frances O'Roark Dowell

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5951537,554 (3.76)6
Cover subtitle: A novel
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I hadn't picked this book up off my bookshelf in five years or something, and tonight I was curious to read it again. Dovey Coe is quite the bossy cow, as we say in my family. Her sister Caroline, her mom, and her dad rightfully point this out and try to correct her behavior somewhat. She doesn't like her sister's suitor, Parnell. Me neither. Neither do her parents or her brother, Amos, but they're subtle about it and have reasons for that. Dovey dislikes this subtlety and they have to spell out their reasons for why, and still she pouts. She flat-out states that she thinks her dad will let her sister's suitor, Parnell, send her Deaf brother off to a school that will do him no favors at best, or harm him at worst. Or so I thought every single time I read this book, until I looked up some American Deaf history as this book related. American Deaf culture wasn't portrayed accurately here. ASL has been around since the late 1800s, and Gaulladet was founded in 1864. He co-founded another school in 1817. The National Association for the Deaf was founded in 1890, a full forty years before this story takes place. This took two seconds of Google. Yet, the book presents ASL it was invented in the 1930s or something, and like Deaf students across the nation had no choice but to stay home and not receive an education. Poor, small-town mountain-living North Carolina folk, maaaaybe. But really. There appeared to be no real research done by O'Rourke. A simple, "Caroline brought the book home, we'd heard of ASL and now we got to all learn it" paragraph would have done -wonders.-

It's unlikely Parnell would have wanted to help Amos in any way, hence me thinking it would have been a terrible school Amos could have possibly been sent to. It's highly possible Parnell wanted to break up the family, but there's nothing to state it wasn't a Deaf school he'd try to send Amos off to, if Dovey's dad had let him. This doesn't happen, but Dovey thinks it will. Parnell is used to getting his way due to his father using money to influence people. This line of thinking and Dovey's statement to her father about it never bothered me before. I'd always read it as further examples that Parnell was a mean, spoiled teenager. Now, tonight, my eyes widened. A twelve-year-old told her middle-aged father she thought he'd let a seventeen-year-old boy send off his own son. Dovey's dad understands her remark as such and she cries. He doesn't speak to her for a few days and...yeah. She takes it super personally. Dovey's going to be a terrible teenager, I realized for the first time.

Dovey's sister, Caroline, was arrogant as well. She's stated to be sensitive about folks thinking she's a just pretty face, only to use her beauty and flirting to--okay, "swindle" might not be the accurate word. Caroline convinces a boy to sell a pocketknife to Dovey and a handheld mirror to herself for much lower than asking price by flirting. The boy gladly accepts the lesser money, even though he acknowledges the consequences waiting for him at home, and asks Caroline out. This was all by chapter six.

I liked the descriptions of the setting and the world-building for the most part! The dialogue, too, painted such a grand picture. I'm glad I decided to read this again, so I could feel perfectly content donating it to the library. ( )
  iszevthere | Jul 27, 2022 |
I read this probably 20 years ago, and remembered parts, but I couldn't quite recall the ending, so I read it again. Just a good the second time around. I love Dowell's storytelling as well. Great voice. ( )
  RobertaLea | Apr 23, 2020 |
This was a fantastic book. It would be a great one for literature circles at school. ( )
  annabw | Feb 21, 2017 |
The appealing strength of "Dovey Coe" rests entirely on the shoulders of the feisty but charming eponymous narrator. Dovey Coe is a 12 year old girl in the mountains of North Carolina in 1928. After a miserable summer of barely tolerating her big sister's vile suitor, the young man is found murdered, with young Dovey Coe standing beside him, bloody knife in her hand. She is brought to trial for murder. The story line is interesting, but by the time we get to the true meat of the plot, the astute reader will have already solved the mystery, and the courtroom drama feels rushed; with a solution so obvious it stretches credibility that the sheriff, judge, attorneys, etc. hadn't solved the issue before it reached the courtroom. However, the first person narration is so well written, and Dovey is so likable (at least to me) that the weaknesses of the book are easily forgiven. And it is after all written for a much younger reader than myself - a 50 year old father of two, who is on a kick of reading YA novels lately. ( )
  fingerpost | May 31, 2016 |
*SPOILER* Dovey and her family like in the hills of North Carolina. Well-to-do Parnell has been pursuing Dovey’s older sister Caroline, who plans to leave and study to become a teacher. There is no love lost between Dovey and Parnell, and when Parnell is found dead by a blow to the head, Dovey is the suspect. Ending rather pat, I thought; too easy.
  Salsabrarian | Feb 2, 2016 |
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My name is Dovey Coe and I reckon it don't matter if you like me or not. I'm here to lay the record straight, to let you know them folks saying I done a terrible thing are liars. I aim to prove it, too. I hated Parnell Caraway as much as the next person, but I didn't kill him.
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Cover subtitle: A novel

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