It’s Halloween, and also parent-teacher conference day for the little kids. They all get to stay home, but Dicey has to go to school and hand in her character sketch.
That afternoon, when Dicey’s in the shed working on the boat, James comes out and tells her he and Sammy are in trouble with Gram, because they went up in the attic while she was at conferences.
He says they apologized (and that he also got an A on his pilgrim paper), and that night at dinner, Gram says she’s over it, and that she believes in "closing the book on things."
James asks how the conferences went, and Gram says she wants to talk to Dicey about it before she tells them. She’s going to take Dicey shopping on Saturday in Salisbury. They’ll take the bus to the mall, and Mr. Lingerle will babysit the younger kids.
That Saturday, at the mall, Gram buys yarn to knit sweaters for the kids. Then she takes Dicey to lunch in a restaurant, where Dicey tries to order the cheapest thing on the menu (spaghetti) but Gram insists they both order club sandwiches with extra mayonnaise.
Over lunch, Gram gives Dicey the lowdown on the conferences: Maybeth’s failing, Sammy has given up the fighting he used to do in Provincetown and become a perfect angel in class, and James turned in a completely different pilgrim report than the one he showed them.
Gram tells Dicey that she wants Dicey and James to come up with a way to teach Maybeth to read. She also expresses her concern about James pretending to be less smart than he is and Sammy trying to be perfect so his teacher will like him.
Dicey tells Gram that none of them ever had friends before because of their mother (a-ha, we see what’s up with Dicey now).
And then comes the most horrifying part of the trip: Gram takes Dicey to a department store to buy dresses (gag) and a bra (double gag!). Dicey’s furious and thinks the whole trip was a trick.
When Dicey sees herself in the mirror in a dress, she realizes that she’s losing her identity more every day. She’s not sure what to do about this growing-up thing.
On the ride home, Gram tells Dicey they need to let the boys know that it’s okay to be themselves, but they need to do it subtly. Then she tries to have The Talk with Dicey.
Dicey lays the smack down on that right away. She tells Gram she already knows about periods and sex, even though she’s never had sex. Both of them are relieved not to have to have the conversation (and we're relieved we don't have to witness it).
Dicey stares out the window at the marsh grasses blowing and tells Gram she’s not so sure who she is anymore. She used to know, but now things are getting a lot more confusing.