Study Guide

A Year Down Yonder Love

By Richard Peck

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Beyond the straightforward romance that blossoms between Mary Alice and Royce, A Year Down Yonder is peppered throughout with stories of love. No, it's not directly expressed by any of the characters. In fact, we don't think the word "love" even appears in this text—at least not in the context of one character expressing love for another in words.

And yet...people in this story do so many things that indicate there's a lot of love floating around. Everything that makes Mary Alice the happiest comes in the form of her loved ones—whether it's her brother Joey visiting for Christmas or getting married to Royce McNabb in the final pages. Whether or not the people in Grandma Dowdel's small town want to admit it, they've got a whole lotta love.

Questions About Love

  1. Is there any foreshadowing that Royce and Mary Alice will wind up together in the end?
  2. Grandma Dowdel isn't one for putting her feelings into words. How does she show that she loves her grandchildren? What about her friends and neighbors?
  3. Love often involves sacrifice in the form of putting someone else's needs first. What sacrifices do people make for love in A Year Down Yonder?

Chew on This

Although Grandma Dowdel never utters the words, "I love you," she shows her love for Mary Alice in many different ways.

Carleen Lovejoy, the one character with the word "love" built right into her name is, in fact, the least loving character in the book.

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