Book Review: Dovey Coe by Frances O’Roark Dowell

Posted October 6, 2015 in Book Review / 6 Comments

Book Review: Dovey Coe by Frances O’Roark DowellDovey Coe by Frances O'Roark Dowell
Published by Walker Books Ltd on August 5th 2002
Genres: Historical Fiction, Middle Grade
Pages: 192
Format: Paperback
Source: Owned
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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. Twelve-year-old Dovey Coe never did like Parnell Caraway. She didn't like his slick way of wooing her older sister. She didn't like the way he maligned her beloved deaf brother. But while she didn't like him, she certainly didn't murder him. All the evidence, however, points to Dovey. Now the girl who's used to protecting everyone around her has to rely on a "city" lawyer who doesn't know goldentod from goldenroot to protect her. Dovey's not one to sit back when troubles are brewing, but just this once she might have to...or will she?

Main Points

Writing Style 
Although it might bother some people, I really liked the way Dovey talked. The uneducated (to put it nicely) style of speech helped the reader get a feel for who Dovey was, completely honest and quite outspoken. Usually grammatical errors in print make me cringe, but I was so caught up with Dovey’s story that I didn’t even notice it until halfway through.
The storyline was simple enough, basically Dovey getting framed for Parnell’s murder, but there were a lot of other little plots going on too, like Dovey’s relationship with her friend Wilson, her brother Amos’ interactions with other people and his dogs, and Caroline’s eagerness to become a teacher. It was very entertaining and engaging, and believable on top of it all.
Dovey: I just loved her. She had such spirit and refused to be put down by anyone. She also seemed very self-sufficient.
Caroline: I have to say, I really wanted to like Caroline, especially with all the nice things Dovey said about their relationship, but in fact I did not. The part of her I saw the most was her falling for evil Parnell, whether it was an act or not. After hearing about all the horrible things he had done, I wanted to shake Caroline and say ‘What is wrong with you? How could you buy in to this? He’s EVIL, for goodness’ sake!’ And I do blame her, mostly, for how everything turned out. She seemed so innocent, but she led him along, and if she had cut it short before it began, things might not have gotten so nasty.
Parnell: Pure evil. Quite possibly one of the worst 17-year-olds (so unfortunately close to my age) I have read about. I have no idea how his own mother and sister could love him, much less *almost* Caroline.
Amos: He seemed really nice and good at adapting to circumstances. I am quite impressed that he learned to read and write, and that he worked out a code with his dogs. But I think Dovey thinks she needs to protect him more than he actually needs protecting.
Wilson: Nice, likeable, a good match for the stubborn Dovey.
Caroline (spoilers, maybe? proceed at your own risk)
Her whole situation reminded me quite a bit of the song Breakaway by Kelly Clarkson. The lyrics match her mindset, it seems. But there is one particular quote from the song: “Out of the darkness and into the sun, but I won’t forget all the ones that I loved.” Well, Caroline seemed quite eager to leave everyone behind. Did she think everything would just go back to normal? Did she think that when she left Parnell would leave the Coes alone? Clearly. Did she think about how her leaving would affect Dovey and Amos? Not enough. I don’t want to call her selfish, really, just a little one-track-minded. And there’s the whole bit about her not wanting people to think she’s nothing but a ‘pretty face’…Well, that may be so, but she certainly enjoys using her ‘pretty face’ to her advantage. And she wants people to think she’s smart? Leading Parnell on only to dump him in front of everyone wasn’t the smartest idea at all. In fact, it was the worst. So in my eyes, she’s nothing more than a silly pretty little girl.
Ending (definite spoilers)
View Spoiler »

Bottom Line

I loved this book, but it wasn’t a definite favorite. I would re-read it (I’ve already done so a few times) because it’s so short. But it brings up a lot of interesting points that I’ve tried to elaborate on in this review. The characters were believable (if not all likeable) and the story was entertaining. Would I recommend this book? Definitely, to anyone. Would I read more of Frances’ books? If they look good. This book has earned 4 stars out of 5.

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About Frances O’Roark Dowell

Frances O’Roark Dowell is an author of middle-grade fiction. Her books have received numerous awards, including an Edgar (Dovey Coe), the William Allan White Award (Dovey Coe), the Christopher Award (Shooting the Moon), the Voya Book Award (Where I’d Like to Be), and the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Excellence in Children’s Fiction, Honor Book (Shooting the Moon). Dowell has an MFA in Creative Writing (Poetry) from the University of Massachusetts. She lives in Durham, NC.

Overall: four-stars


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6 Comments on "Book Review: Dovey Coe by Frances O’Roark Dowell"

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Jazmen ThisGirlReadsAlot

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