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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.
    • Jeff Greene, thanks to his mother's neglect and the realization that she's not the wonderful maternal angel he thought she was. Thankfully, he does get better, especially after he and his father move to Crisfield.
  • Broken Bird: Abigail Tillerman.
  • Broken Pedestal: Jeff idolizes his mother and decides to become her white knight after a wonderful visit with her. The next visit, unfortunately, goes badly as she spends more time with her Jerkass boyfriend and seems completely uninterested in him. He realizes she doesn't love him as much as he wants her to, and all illusions of her as this wonderful person are shattered. He takes a long time to recover from it.
  • 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.
  • Converse with the Unconscious: Dicey and Abigail talk to Liza while she's dying and in her catatonic state, to update her on how things are going with the children in her absence.
  • Death by Newbery Medal
  • Denied Food as Punishment: Abigail tries to invoke this in "Homecoming" 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.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Jeff falls into this hard in "A Solitary Blue" after a disappointing visit with his mother, Melody, and realizing that the woman he'd idolized and white-knighted for the past year didn't love him as much as he loved her. It takes weeks for his father and housekeeper Brother Thomas to pull him out of it.
  • 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.
  • Heroic Bastard: All four Tillerman children. At one point Dicey makes up a lie about their parents having married to make her siblings feel better, but eventually she has to come clean.
  • Hidden Depths: Just about every single character in the series, to some degree.
  • It's All About Me: Melody's activism, ultimately. She left her family because she wanted to help the starving children of the world, but in reality she just does things like that so she can feel good about herself.
  • Jerkass/Abusive Parents: John Tillerman Sr. in The Runner.
  • Momma's Boy: All the Tillerman children love their mother, but Sammy especially. He's even gotten into fights with kids for talking bad about her.
  • Older Than They Look: Tamer Shipp in The Runner goes to high school with Bullet, but is also a husband and a father.
  • Parents as People: Horace "The Professor" Greene is somewhat distant compared to Melody, but the "warm mother, cold father" ideology is deconstructed: Melody projects herself as a loving mother, but spends half her time shit-talking Horace to Jeff, which Jeff believes. Horace, on the other hand, is socially awkward, but clearly loves his son and the only reason he doesn't pay immediate attention is that Jeff tries to be completely self-reliant based on his mother's lies about the man. Thankfully, Horace and Jeff end up becoming much closer once Melody proves to be a disappointment.
  • Parental Abandonment: First the Tillerman siblings' 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.
  • Shotgun Wedding: Melody married Horace because she got pregnant with Jeff.
  • Shrinking Violet: Maybeth, to the point where in Homecoming she's mistaken for mentally retarded due to her silence.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: How Dicey sees having to take home ec instead of mechanical drawing. Subverted when the teacher discusses how domestic skills are vital to knowing how to take care of oneself, and brings up changing a flat tire in addition to things like cooking and sewing. Dicey later realizes that if her grandmother didn't know how to do all these things, she and her siblings would be much worse off.
  • Team Mom: Subverted. Dicey is the oldest and tries to hold things together, but Homecoming lets the reader know that she's thirteen, temperamental, doesn't always plan well, and makes mistakes. This is why they suffer through Cousin Eunice's rules and conditional love for weeks, and why Abigail eventually takes them under her wing.
  • 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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