Cynthia Voigt Alice Digilio - Essay

Alice Digilio

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[With Dicey's Song, Cynthia Voigt] proves that heroines of young adult fiction can be mature, considerate, even exemplary, and still seem quite real. Dicey Tillerman, the heroine of Dicey's Song, is not just good, she is strong, like a birch sapling, and it is Voigt's skill in convincing us of that strength that makes her seem so real. (p. 8)

Of course the journey [that began in Homecoming] isn't over once Gram's house has been reached. Dicey still must play the leader, making accommodation with a proud and independent grandmother (who reluctantly has to go on welfare to support them all), trying to help Sammy, Maybeth and James navigate successfully through a new world.

Dicey is a fulcrum for the characters balanced about her: zany Sammy who, at 8, is trying to be good, for a change; Maybeth, a musical prodigy who still can't quite read; James, bookish and serious, but struggling to make friends; Gram, hard-nosed and intensely private, shielding herself from further pain. Dicey seems to know how to exploit one's strength to compensate for another's weakness. And she and Gram somehow keep everything and everyone in equilibrium.

In spite of its carefully circumscribed rural setting, Dicey's Song, is rich with themes and harmonies, even verities. Loyalty and love, "reaching out" as Gram says, are the qualities Voigt writes about here with grace and wit. (pp. 8-9)

Alice Digilio, in a review of "Dicey's Song," in Book World—The Washington Post, February 13, 1983, pp. 8-9.