Study Guide

A Year Down Yonder Coming of Age

By Richard Peck

Coming of Age

Mary Alice Dowdel is fifteen years old when she goes to live with her Grandma Dowdel in A Year Down Yonder. In other words, she's primed for some serious teenage angst. Being in the middle of this rather special and tumultuous period of life definitely impacts how she handles the challenges that come her way.

Over the course of the book, we get to see Mary Alice grow into a confident young woman as she cares for her grandmother, helps out her neighbors, and falls in love for the first time.

Questions About Coming of Age

  1. How does Grandma Dowdel figure out that Mary Alice is interested in romance now?
  2. How does Mary Alice's view of her grandmother change throughout the course of the book?
  3. What is the biggest change in Mary Alice from the beginning of the book to the end?
  4. What event indicates that Mary Alice has made the transition from child to adult?

Chew on This

The adversity Mary Alice faces in her grandmother's town plays a big role in her transition to adulthood.

When Mary Alice first meets Royce McNabb, neither of them are prepared to pursue a real relationship.

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