The Way to Stay in Destiny

The promise of a good first line in a book stirs hope and just a bit of anxiety lest one should be disappointed. The Way to Stay in Destiny by Augusta Scattergood begins, “The crazy lady in seat 2B hasn’t stopped singing ‘You Are My Sunshine’ since the glare hit the windshield three hours ago.”

Theo and his Uncle Raymond – make that reluctant Uncle Raymond – arrive in Destiny, Florida, the “Town Time Forgot” with a knapsack, a tool box, an old army duffle, and loads of family baggage between them. Theo takes a liking to one segment of the town immediately – Miss Sister’s piano – and knows he wants to stay in Destiny. It takes longer for him to sift through the family dynamics and find out what’s eating his uncle who showed up to whisk him away as his aging grandparents sell the family farm. He knows little about the uncle except that he’s a Vietnam veteran who claims to have had a much better job and life in Alaska before he becomes saddled with an orphaned nephew.

His relationship with Anabel as they work on their history project together provides relief from the uneasy relationship with his uncle. Anabel’s creative ways to circumvent her mother’s ambitions for her to become a graceful dancer in Miss Sister’s dance classes and their common love of baseball and its history weave together in a complementary story line.  As this part of the story nears its climax, Theo gives one of my favorite quotes from the book, “Nobody in the history of the universe ever learned one single fact worth knowing on the last day of school.”

Promise fulfilled! I enjoyed the advance reading copy for this book that goes on sale tomorrow [January 6]. The book is a good middle school read and would be especially appropriate for boys who are both musicians and sports fanatics. [Those boys do exist. Two grew up in my house!]