Destiny

Coming of age in small-town Missouri, 12-year-old Destiny Capperson has plenty to learn fromAand to teach toAthe three imperfect but immensely likable women in her life. Their heartfelt exchanges create a tender contemporary novel, despite Grove’s (The Starplace) often trite plotting. Destiny must find a job to avoid another “potato run” (her ne’er-do-well stepfather forces her to sell moldy potatoes door-to-door). Her stereotypically free-spirited art teacher Miss Valentino introduces her to the “piercing” Mrs. Peck, who is going blind and needs a reader. Destiny connects with the retired Latin instructor; she reads her ancient myths and they discuss justice and hope. When Destiny discovers Mrs. Peck’s role in the car accident that crippled her brother, she must learn to apply the ideas they’ve discussed to save their bond. While Mrs. Peck’s lessons are the most literal, Miss Valentino and Destiny’s mother also guide her. Destiny has always been sure of Miss Valentino’s enthusiasm and creativity, but it’s her mother’s love that proves most surprising and satisfying. In turn, the girl teaches them all something about taking responsibility. Grove peppers the plot with unrealistic scenes such as the sudden return of the pet rabbits that Destiny’s stepfather had sold, or the quick reformation of Destiny’s mother. But the vivid details and snappy dialogue in each of the characters’ interactions keep this story grounded and valuable. Ages 10-up.

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