Dicey's Song: Summary & Characters

Instructor: Crystal Hall

Crystal has a bachelor's degree in English, a certification in General Studies, and has assisted in teaching both middle and high school English.

''Dicey's Song'', the sequel to ''Homecoming'' by Cynthia Voight, continues the tale of Dicey Tillerman and her siblings as they settle into a life with their eccentric grandmother, each learning to become part of a family again.


Dicey Tillerman: Thirteen years old and the eldest of four siblings, Dicey carries most of the responsibilities for her brothers and sister.

James Tillerman: Ten-year-old James is serious, intelligent, and inquisitive. He is an excellent student at school, but his loneliness due to a lack of friendships lies just below the surface.

Maybeth Tillerman: Maybeth is Dicey's third-grade sister. She is an exceptionally talented piano player and singer.

Sammy Tillerman: Sammy is seven years old and rambunctious and energetic. There is a great deal of anger and resentment inside of Sammy's heart that presents itself through verbal outbursts and fighting at school.

Gram (Abigail Tillerman): A bitterly angry woman, Abigail Tillerman has been alone for many years. She lives on a rural farm, secluded and convinced that she is perfectly happy living that way.

Liza Tillerman: Liza is the mother of Dicey, James, Maybeth, and Sammy. The endless responsibilities of being a single mother of four children prove to be too much for Liza so she abandons her children in the parking lot of a shopping center.

Wilhemina Smiths: Boisterous, humorous, highly intelligent, and popular in school, Mina senses a kindred spirit in Dicey and befriends her, in spite of Dicey's resistance.

Jeff: Jeff is a quiet sophomore who often plays the guitar outside of Dicey's school building.

Millie Tydings: Millie owns the local grocery store in Crisfield, Maryland, just across the bay from the farm of Abigail Tillerman.

Isaac Lingerle: Mr. Lingerle is Maybeth's music teacher at her school. After he begins giving Maybeth private piano lessons at the Tillerman farm, Mr. Lingerle is drawn into their family and out of his shell.

A New Beginning

The four Tillerman children, ages seven to thirteen, were abandoned by their mother in the parking lot of a mall. In order to avoid being separated by foster care, they walked hundreds of miles to find their grandmother, whom they had never met. Abigail Tillerman initially resisted their needs out of anger and resentment toward her daughter, Liza, for moving away from home with the boy she loved. Grudgingly, she allows her four grandchildren to live with her, and their obvious need for love and attention begins to thaw out her frozen emotions. On her neglected farm in Crisfield, Maryland, Abigail and the children work together to become whole again.

Problems and Solutions

Becoming a family does not come easily to any of the characters, and the story is filled with the growing pains that often accompany adjustment and adaptation. Dicey, accustomed to being responsible for her brothers and sister, has difficulty allowing Gram to take the reins. Sanding and repainting an old sailboat that once belonged to one of her uncles, Dicey enjoys having time to herself. As the story progresses, Dicey experiences the physical changes of growing up, which she resists mightily. Gram takes Dicey shopping for her first bra and some new clothes and attempts to discuss the facts of life with her. Dicey gets a part-time job after-school cleaning Millie Tydings' grocery store. At school, Dicey becomes friends with Jeff, a sophomore who plays his guitar while sitting outside the school building. Wilhemina Smiths, an extremely popular girl, becomes Dicey's friend, in spite of Dicey's resistance.

James has always been well-read and intelligent, excelling in school with little effort. He loves learning and questions everything because he is a thinker and enjoys puzzling over many subjects. Never having had a friend before, James is delighted to make one at his new school and even has him over to spend the night. James takes a paper route, which he later gives to Sammy because James is helping Maybeth learn to read.

Maybeth, who is thought to have a learning disability, has difficulty reading. Coupled with her shyness and insecurity, Maybeth is miserable. Her reading improves a great deal when James figures out a different way to teach her than she has been learning at school. Her incredible talents for singing and playing the piano capture the attention of her music teacher, Mr. Lingerle. He offers to give Maybeth piano lessons at the Tillerman farm.

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