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A series of YA novels by Cynthia Voigt, mainly focused on a young girl named Dicey as she tries to keep herself and her younger brothers and sister alive, sane and together after their mother abandons them. The series consists of the following books:

  1. Homecoming, the first installment, details their summer of trials and tribulations before they finally meet their maternal grandmother.
  2. Dicey's Song, the second book, picks up shortly after and is mostly about the children's adjustment to life in Maryland.
  3. A Solitary Blue briefly breaks away from the Tillermans; it's the backstory of Dicey's love interest Jeff.
  4. The Runner goes back in time to tell the story of Dicey's deceased Uncle Bullet as a teenager and shed some light on grandmother Abigail's life as a wife and mother.
  5. Come a Stranger is about Wilhemina Smiths, Dicey's best friend.
  6. Sons from Afar focuses on Dicey's brothers James and Sammy, and their attempts to find their missing biological father.
  7. Seventeen Against the Dealer is the final installment, in which the focus returns to Dicey.

Dicey's Song won a Newbery Medal, and Homecoming was adapted into a Made for TV Movie starring Anne Bancroft.


This series contains examples of:

  • Big Eater: James
  • Black Best Friend: Wilhemina Smiths
  • Break the Cutie: Liza. She grew up listening to her parents fight constantly, the guy she loved ended up being an untrustworthy Jerkass who abandoned her and her kids, and all her efforts to keep her head above water did was drive her into a catatonic state and eventually kill her.
  • Broken Bird: Abigail Tillerman
  • Cassandra Truth: A variant occurs in Dicey's Song, when one of Dicey's home economics assignments is to plan a meal for a family of four for fifty dollars. Remembering how she had to provide for herself and her siblings during Homecoming, Dicey lists the kind of food they ate that summer: soup, peanut butter, bread, milk, fruit -- and when she still has $30 left, she adds extra treats like half-price dougnuts and chicken wings. Her teacher gives Dicey an F and informs her that "nobody could live for long on meals like this." Dicey angrily considers telling her the entire story, but quickly decides not to bother.
  • Death by Newbery Medal
  • Denied Food as Punishment: Abigail tries to invoke this after Sammy comes in late from riding his bike, but Dicey tells her it's pointless because the children already know how it feels to go hungry.
  • Determinator: Dicey. She shepherds the other three children (aged 10, 9, and 6) from Pawcatuk, Connecticut to Bridgeport-- about 80 miles-- on foot, finds places to sleep and ways to earn money, to keep her family together. She's only 13.
  • Don't Split Us Up: The whole reason the children refused to go to the police after their mother disappeared.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble:
    • Choleric: Dicey
    • Phlegmatic: James
    • Melancholic/Supine: Maybeth
    • Sanguine: Sammy
  • The Glorious War of Brotherly Rivalry: In Sons from Afar. Sammy is the popular jock, James is the insecure intellectual. This serves to create friction between them throughout most of the story. Avoided with Dicey and Maybeth.
  • Hidden Depths: Just about every single character in the series, to some degree.
  • Jerkass/Abusive Parents: John Tillerman Sr. in The Runner.
  • Older Than They Look: Tamer Shipp in The Runner goes to high school with Bullet, but is also a husband and a father.
  • Parental Abandonment: First their father up and ditches the family while their mother is pregnant with youngest child Sammy, then years later she runs away herself after a life of hardship drives her to the brink of insanity. Jeff's backstory also includes a Missing Mom and a distant father (though his father does get better).
  • Promotion to Parent: Dicey in Homecoming. She gets so used to taking care of her siblings that it's hard to step back from the role once they move in with their grandmother.
  • Raised by Grandmother: The Tillerman siblings, post-Homecoming.
  • Shrinking Violet: Maybeth, to the point where in Homecoming she's mistaken for mentally retarded due to her silence.
  • Younger Than They Look: Isaac Lingerle, Maybeth's piano teacher, is 28 years old, but his obesity and the fact that he's already going bald make him appear much older.
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