The main character is 13 years old and in 8th grade, as is her friend Mina. Jeff, the guy who wants to be her boyfriend, is in 10th grade. Dicey’s dealing with problems common to junior-high students, like her developing body and growing awareness of who she is and what she wants. And if that's not enough to convince you that this is Young Adult Literature, well, maybe you'll trust the folks over at Newbery, who awarded this their famous Newbery medal for American literature for children.
Dicey’s Song is about nothing if not family. And boy, is there drama. When the book opens, she and her siblings have just walked and hitchhiked from Massachusetts to Maryland in search of a family member who will take them in. Gram, their maternal grandmother, adopts them, and they later have to deal with the death of their mother. We see the burial of her ashes in Gram’s front yard. At the end of the book, Gram pulls down family photos from the attic and begins to tell them about their mother and uncles as children, setting the stage for another book in the Tillerman Cycle.
Our heroine is awash in hormones as she deals with puberty. Bras? Boys? The horror. She’s also trying to figure out who she is, which she feels is changing. She’s been responsible for her siblings for a whole summer, and Gram has to tell her that it’s time to focus on herself. Part of this is learning to make friends as she prepares to enter high school. Sounds like coming-of-age to Shmoop.