Winter Break Reads: “A Long Way From Chicago”

Thea Belak ‘21 / Emertainment Monthly Editor

With winter break approaching and many students having long commutes, many are looking to find ways to pass the time that they would have either spent staring out the window of the car or re-watching the same movie they’ve seen five times before on a flight. What better way to spend those seemingly endless hours than with something lighthearted and entertaining? Since this article is in the book section, you can see where I’m going with this….

Photo Credit: Penguin Random House

Below is the wonderfully hilarious book trilogy by Richard Peck, written between 1998 and 2009. The three books tell the fantastic tale of Grandma Dowdel, a feisty blunt old woman living in a small rural town in Illinois during the great depression. The first book, A Long Way from Chicago is narrated by oldest of her two grandchildren, Joey. He and his younger sister Mary Alice are sent away each summer of their childhood to their Grandma Dowdel, in hopes that she’ll keep them out of trouble. However, nine times out of ten they wind up being more of accomplices to her many shenanigans. Some legal, some not.

Photo Credit: Scholastic

The second book in the series, A Year Down Yonder is narrated by Mary Alice, while Joey is old enough to have been recruited into the Civilian Conservation Corps. Mary Alice has been sent down to look after her aging grandmother and finish high school in the local town. While Grandma Dowdel might have aged, she’s still feisty as ever and has no problem assisting in helping get back at the nasty high school kids Mary Alice accidentally finds herself making enemies of.

Photo Credit: Amazon

The third is A Season Of Gifts whose stories are narrated by the son of a new family that has moved into town and his telling tales of meeting the great legend of Grandma Dowdel. Although it first appears that she might have hardened with time, she proves to be the families kindness and friendliest ally.

Each of the books is told in short chapters, with self-contained stories so that you can quickly pick it up and read a chapter whenever you like and can read it over as long a time period as you want. The stories are fun, lighthearted and something which, even if you don’t find to your taste, would make beautiful gifts to give to your own grandma’s and grandmothers.

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