In DEAREST DOROTHY, ARE WE THERE YET? Baumbich introduced readers to the small town of Partonville, "a circle-the-square" town in the northern part of southern Illinois. In this delightful sequel, Baumbich continues her saga of small-town life and the mélange of whacky, loveable characters who inhabit Partonville. After 87 years, Dorothy Jean Westra makes her peace with leaving Crooked Creek Farm, her birthplace and lifelong home. She's sure she hears God whispering "Remember well all you see, for these splendid images will sustain you in the days to come." Taking Him at His word, she stores up memories to help her make the transition to Tess Walker's old place, right smack next door to her best friend May Belle and her mentally-challenged adult son Earl.
Most of the characters from the first book are here. The United Methodist Church's Social Concerns committee is putting together the Fall Rummage Sale, and as usual, Acting Mayor Gladys McKern is throwing her weight around, letting the ladies know who really runs things. Jessica Joy is juggling motherhood and work, nursing little Sarah Sue and feeling like "a wrung-out dairy cow." As she tries to keep the small Lamp Post Motel running while her husband, Paul, works long hours in the coal mines of southern Illinois, she also eeks out time to hone her artistic talent.
Jessica discovers an unexpected friend in city slicker Katie Durbin, who with her teenage son, Josh, has returned for a visit to Partonville. Although the town folks suspect Katie has bought Crooked Creek Farm as a real estate investment for possible development, Katie finds on her return to Partonville that "a quiet ache brewed within. For what, she wasn't exactly sure, but the words "blessed friends and family swirled around her. Tugged, prodded, beckoned." Katie finds herself yearning to become a part of the little community she once scorned as "Pardon-Me-Ville." After living life at dizzifying speed, Katie realizes it might be time to slow down.
Dorothy, on the other hand, is still moving at a brisk pace, earning her online screen name, "Outtamyway." Change is in the air, however, and some of it is bittersweet. Dorothy's "rusty-and-white" Lincoln, a.k.a. "The Tank," is showing signs of decline, and at 87-years-young, Dorothy is dealing with heart problems that threaten to detour her cheerful, optimistic approach to everything. But no matter what challenges she faces, the indomitable Dorothy's philosophy is "We better be living the life we want to live and not wasting our numbered days on what doesn't matter." Whether it's cheering on aging Pitcher Jessie Landers during the community softball team (pom poms in hand!) or playing bunco with the "Happy Hookers," it's a sure bet that wherever the action is, Dorothy will be there also.
How many risks will Dorothy take before she's taken one too many? When the disintegrating "Tank" is set to run in the demolition derby to go out in a blaze of glory, everyone wonders who the mystery driver is behind the wheel. Could Dorothy really be risking so much? Or is there another crazy driver in Partonville?
If you haven't read DEAREST DOROTHY, ARE WE THERE YET, you'll want to read it first. But be warned --- this series is addictive. You'll soon be hooked on the small town of Partonville and its cast of assorted characters.
Reviewed by Cindy Crosby. Contact Cindy firstname.lastname@example.org. on December 29, 2010