"We are on a journey to a place called Wonderful."
That's the motto of the Malone family of Gary, Indiana. Twelve-year-old Deza Malone is the smartest student in her class, told by her teachers that she's destined for a special path in life. Her older brother, Jimmie, is no angel, but he can sing like one, and when he does, people stop to listen.
The Great Depression has hit Gary hard, and there are few jobs--especially for black men like Mr. Malone. After their father leaves Gary to find work, Deza, Jimmie, and their mother set out in his wake, always holding out hope that they will catch up to him. The pluck with which the endearing, sometimes comical Deza faces the twists and turns of the family's journey proves that she truly is the Mighty Miss Malone.
Newbery Award-winning author Christopher Paul Curtis has written a heart-wrenching, suspenseful new classic about one unforgettable family during the turbulent days of the Great Depression.
The Malones have easily become my favorite fictional family ever. The love they have for each other pours through every page, whether they are telling stories, eating buggy oatmeal, or forging letters of recommendation. They are not a perfect family, but they go through fights and life's difficulties together. I'm not lying, I'm probably going to steal some of their mottos and habits whenever I have a family of my own.
Because I loved their family so much (each individual and as a unit), I was devastated by this book! Most of the time, you know, good storytelling means needing conflict and obstacles. I very much wanted that not to be the case here! I would have been happy reading about Deza happily collecting A+s, Jimmie singing at ball games, Mother making presents out of nothing, and Father telling intricate happy stories. That's all I wanted! I didn't want bad things to happen to them!
But bad things did happen. And I hated it. But I loved the Malones all the more as they endured and fought and ultimately triumphed.
The ending makes everything they go through worthwhile, and I actually laughed a happy I-can't-believe-they-made-it laugh on the last page. There is a happy ending fitting for a book that begins with "Once upon a time," but this is no fairy tale. It's believable, and heartbreaking, and uplifting all at the same time.
I can't recommend this enough!
Five out of five cavities.
Release Date: January 2012
Reading Level: Grade 4+
Where In Dunlap Public Library's Collection: YPL CUR