Beka Lamb by Zee Edgell tracks Beka's development as she must cope with her friend's death and her understanding of the norms of her own society. As an aspiring politician, Beka must finish school, having just failed a grade and tries different ways of asserting herself, even speaking Spanish which only disappoints her father who calls her "a phony." Beka's mother tries to inspire Beka as she understands what life will be like if Beka does not succeed.
Great Gran Straker is Beka's mother's grandmother to whom Beka turns for advice when she is unsure of things or feeling lonely but she is too ill. Beka remembers how Greatgran would tell her stories which Beka loved to hear over and over. Greatgran had had to raise Beka's mother Lilla, after her own mother, had died in childbirth. Beka does attend Great Gran Straker's wake and learns much of her family tradition.
The story in Beka Lamb revolves around Toycie's death, Beka's best friend, and Greatgran Straker's death. There is a vast difference between the mourning of the two as no wake is held for Toycie, except "in the privacy" of Beka's own heart. The character of Greatgran Straker is thus significant in Beka's character development and in revealing the close community in which Beka lives. The funeral also reveals the changing times and Beka is almost an observer rather than a participant in her great grandmother's funeral. It is Greatgran Straker's philosophy and encouragement that Beka remembers and which inspires her to better things, a turning point for Beka, along with the notebook her mother has given her.