Welcome to 'Fine Lines', the Friday feature in which we give a sentimental, sometimes-critical, far more wizened look at the children's and YA books we loved in our youth. This week, writer / reviewer / blogger Lizzie Skurnick reads Cynthia Voight's 'Homecoming', the 1981 story of a girl on a quest for fire.The woman put her sad moon-face in at the window of the car. "You be good," she said. "You hear me? You little ones, mind what Dicey tells you. You hear?"
...They were drawn to restaurants that exuded the smell of spaghetti and pizza or fried chicken, bakeries with trays of golden doughnuts lined up behind glass windows, candy stories, where the countertop was crowded with large jars of jelly beans and sourballs and little foil-covered chocolates and peppermints dipped in crunch white frosting; cheese shops (they each had two free samples), where the rich smell of aged cheeses mingled with fresh-ground coffee, and hot dog stands, where they stood back in silent row. After this, they sat on a backless bench before the waterfall, tired and hungry. Altogether, they had eleven dollars and fifty cents, more than any one of them had at one time before, even Dicey, who contributed all of her baby-sitting money, seven dollars. They spent almost four dollars on supper at the mall, and none of them had dessert. They had hamburgers and french fries and, after Dicey thought it over, milkshakes.
How were they supposed to eat then, Dicey asked herself. By buying food, she answered. The whole world was arranged for people who had money-for adults who had money. The whole world was arranged against kids. Well, she could handle it. Somehow.
So, she had to earn some money. But how? There was that shopping center. It had a big parking lot, and a supermarket. She pictured it carefully, and then pictured herself coming out of the market with two big bags filled with fruit and meat and breads and cans of vegetables and pan to cook things in. And a can opener; it would be just her luck to forget the can opener. In her daydream, the Dicey she saw walking out of the store with enough food for her family to eat for days, with her eyes smiling and a big grin stretching her mouth, that Dicey tripped and fell. The food scattered over the ground. The wheels of cars squashed the scattered oranges and bananas. A dog took the package of hamburger meat and ran away with it. The people around went off on their own ways, carrying their own heavy bags of groceries. Was this how Momma felt? Was this why Momma ran away?
"You know," Dicey said, "we don't have to go anywhere. We could always travel like this, following the warm weather, like Will said he did. We can take care of ourselves." "Yeah, but what's the point?" James asked. "There doesn't have to be a point," Dicey said. "Just doing it. Like sailing."
Boats, waves, water, wind: through the wood she felt them working for her. She was not directing, but accompanying them, turning them to her use. She didn't work against them, but with them; and she made the boat do that too. It wasn't power she felt, guiding the tiller, but purpose.
•The Cat Ate My Gymsuit: A Pocket Full Of Orange Pits