A Long Way From Chicago introduces one of the best characters I have discovered in a long while. And rightfully so, as the book was created from a short story written about Grandma Dowdel. This novel starts with young Joey and Mary Alice’s first summer visit to stay with their grandmother in small-town Illinois. The children are used to being in the city of Chicago and are shocked into oblivion by the actions and stories that their grandmother presents. Each chapter describes a different summer visit, over the span of seven years, in which they learn something new and radical about old Grandma Dowdel. Big in stature and voice, it seems as if Mrs. Dowdel runs the town and her home with an iron fist, but her grandchildren do get plenty of chances to see her softer side.
by Richard Peck
Originally published in 1998