Nth reread. I have posts on Thick as Thieves
, All the Birds in the Sky
, and Carry On, Mr. Bowditch
in the queue, but then mildred_of_midgard
found several interesting cross-references between The Runner
and Seventeen Against the Dealer
(thank you for telling me about these!) and one thing led to another and now I'm in the throes of a massive Tillerman reread. Maybe I'll even get through Homecoming
this time, although so far it's not looking promising… I have a plan, though!
In my reading Dicey's Song
this time around, the theme of holding on and letting go is even more explicitly prominent than I remembered
— but, you know, now that I think about it, this theme echoes and re-echoes throughout the cycle. In Runner
, in Come a Stranger
, in Sons from Afar
… all of the books, I think, really, are about letting go of the things you have to, and holding on to the things you love, and how those things are tangled up together and sometimes are the same thing.
And I noticed on my last reread that the cycle's overarching theme (or one of them) is family, and this book is about the family that figures itself out, how it figures itself out, and is the one most explicitly about
what it means to be a family.
I think this book is in many ways the thesis statement for the entire cycle.
And oh my goodness the resonances… I think Voigt must have had all these characters fully realized in her head from the very beginning. Jeff cites his father quoting Tolstoy about how unhappy families are all unhappy in their own way… setting up that
exploration of family. And the Chesapeake Bay, which is its own character who really comes into its own in Solitary Blue
. And the farm, which emerges as a character (as mildred_of_midgard
And boats and music, both as motifs and representative of… what is the boat representative of? Freedom? Independence? Connection? I think all those things at one time or another. Boats are… a really big deal in this cycle. I think every book
has a boat playing a somewhat central role. Oh no, wait, not Come a Stranger
, I think? Which may mean something as well... Anyway. This book begins with Dicey sinking a boat (…Bullet's old boat, right? So it's its own character too?), then the rest of the book involves her working on it, and what it means that she's able to or not able to work on it. Interestingly, where Dicey is concerned it seems to be the process that symbolizes to us what's going on, not the result (as it might be in the hands of another writer). Dicey doesn't finish the boat, and that means something because the reason she doesn't finish it is because she' busy holding on. (HM. Bullet finished his boat. He was letting go, and not holding on to anything. HMM. Runner
is probably the key to this whole cycle.) And then there's the failure in Seventeen
… I think it will be much more interesting to look at that, this time out.
I don't know what music means exactly in these books, except that it's a way throughout the cycle that people are drawn together, that people in these books strengthen families and create found families. Interestingly… I think (?) the only book devoid of music entirely is The Runner
, and even that one has poetry as a way to (sort of) connect.
And other things… Gram gets a phone. The same phone she threw at the phone company in Runner
, when she became for all intents and purposes alone, and liked it that way (well, I guess, at least after her husband died; I don't imagine it was very comfortable until then, but from what she says in this book, she might have found her own meaning in that as well). She gets it explicitly because she has children in the house
. So the phone, itself a means of communication, becomes representative of Gram's willingness to communicate, her connection, her reaching out.
(Geez, I want more fic about Gram. She learned all these lessons, slowly and painfully, that she's telling to Dicey in this book. What was it like
And the scene in the wood shop never fails to break me down. I'm just always a crying mess after reading that one.