A Long Way from Chicago
by Richard Peck
November 15, 2007
For my second book report, I chose to read A Long Way from Chicago, a fiction novel by Richard Peck. The main characters are Grandma Dowdel, her grandchildren Joey Dowdel, and his sister, Mary Alice. Joey and Mary Alice lived with their parents in Chicago and every August from 1929 until the summer of 1935, they spent at least a week with their Grandma Dowdel. Grandma Dowdel lived in a small town between Chicago and St. Louis during most of her life and the Great Depression.
Each chapter in A Long Way from Chicago tells a different story during one the visits to Grandma Dowdel by Joey and Mary Alice. The conflict in each of the chapters is internal. The internal conflicts are Grandma Dowdel’s outlandish behavior as she plots to get even with the Cowgill boys, the sheriff, the banker and his wife, and other town folks in the seven chapters. The town’s people are shown as trying to take advantage of her and her grandchildren as well as some of the poorer people that live nearby.
Each of the seven chapters contains a different internal conflict but she resolves them the same. Grandma Dowdel had a big heart and went out of her way to help the town folks who were in need. She used wit, her sharp tongue, and cleverness to plan an impressive funeral for Shotgun Cheatham, to feed the drifters, arrange the elopement of Vandalia Eubanks and Junior Stubbs, and give Joey a ride in Buchanan’s biplane.
My favorite part of the book occurs in the last chapter. The time now is 1942 the beginning of World War II and Joey has not seen his Grandma Dowdel since the summer of 1939. He is now twenty-two years old, enlisted in the Army Air Corps, and is on his way to flight school. Since...