Grounded by Kate Klise (NY: Feiwel and Friends, 2010).
Twelve-year-old Daralynn Oakland was grounded for going out alone fishing in their Ozark town of Digginsville, Missouri, so she wasn't on the plane that crashed and killed her dad, brother, and sister. Now it's just her and her mom struggling with their loss. The 237 dolls that people have given her don't really help her much, and even worse, she's getting called Dolly because of them, which she hates, as would any self-respecting tomboy. Her new nickname isn't the only change, of course. Her mom gets a job; first she's styling hair for dead people at the funeral home and then she buys the town's beauty parlor after the owner dies. Daralynn's mom will hardly let her out of her sight now, so Daralynn ends up learning how to style hair, too, and even makes money doing it. Then newcomer Clem Munroe opens a crematorium, which is not a ice cream parlor as Daralynn initially believes. The crematorium threatens the funeral home's business, and her mom's sideline. Daralynn comes up with the idea of Living Funerals, but then the crematorium owner starts a similar service. Worse, Daralynn's Aunt Josie falls in love with the nefarious newcomer. Daralynn's quest to discredit him leads her into a dangerous mystery that teaches her about everything that anchors her life.
A poignant situation and quirky characters make this historical novel, set in the 1970s, an excellent read. Daralynn is spunky yet soulful as she deals with her own grief and tries to understand her mother's seemingly unfeeling behavior as well. A fine mystery plus a nuanced examination of the many meanings of grounding round out this superb novel. Highly recommended for ages 9 and up.
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