Cover image for Destiny
Grove, Vicki.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Putnam's, 2000.
Physical Description:
169 pages ; 22 cm
Twelve-year-old Destiny tries to find meaning in her art in a life complicated by three younger siblings, a mother who dreams of winning the lottery, and her mother's unscrupulous boyfriend.
Reading Level:
960 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 5.9 6.0 54842.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 6.3 10 Quiz: 22159 Guided reading level: NR.
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Destiny had been selling not-so-fresh potatoes with her stepfather, Jack, for too long. It's embarrassing, and even a little disgusting, especially in front of girls in her own class who probably never have to worry about money.So when Destiny finds a job reading to the elderly Mrs. Peck in the big stone house surrounded by gardens, her world turns upside down. With Mrs. Peck, Destiny discovers worlds she never knew: ancient Greece and Rome. But she also discovers that Mrs. Peck was involved in the long-ago accident that crippled Destiny's little brother. Just what the means to her family is enough to tear her whole family apart. And that is doesn't proves just how much Destiny has learned from Mrs. Peck

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 5^-9. Like Corman's What Jamie Saw (1995), this is a family story of hardscrabble poverty, cruelty, and love. Destiny Louise, 12, dreams of being an artist, and she's made a studio in a corner of the crowded room she shares with her little sisters. She's their main caregiver, too, since Mama spends day and night watching TV, and most of their food stamps go for lottery tickets. Nathan, Destiny's brother, had his legs "scrunched" in a mysterious car accident, with the money from the settlement going to buy their house. Destiny's favorite teacher encourages her in art and gets her a job with an elderly Latin teacher, who tells Destiny stories from classical myths. The teacher conversations are a bit messagey, but the mythical connections are lightly drawn ("the Oracle of Delphi knew beans," no more than Mama's psychic). What's most powerful are the family scenes of anger and love. Nearly every gritty detail is both fact and metaphor, from Mama's hand on the remote, to Nathan's discovery of the secret "treasure" in the garbage that helps Mama grow up and brings the family home. --Hazel Rochman

Publisher's Weekly Review

Coming of age in small-town Missouri, 12-year-old Destiny Capperson has plenty to learn fromÄand to teach toÄthe three imperfect but immensely likable women in her life. Their heartfelt exchanges create a tender contemporary novel, despite Grove's (The Starplace) often trite plotting. Destiny must find a job to avoid another "potato run" (her ne'er-do-well stepfather forces her to sell moldy potatoes door-to-door). Her stereotypically free-spirited art teacher Miss Valentino introduces her to the "piercing" Mrs. Peck, who is going blind and needs a reader. Destiny connects with the retired Latin instructor; she reads her ancient myths and they discuss justice and hope. When Destiny discovers Mrs. Peck's role in the car accident that crippled her brother, she must learn to apply the ideas they've discussed to save their bond. While Mrs. Peck's lessons are the most literal, Miss Valentino and Destiny's mother also guide her. Destiny has always been sure of Miss Valentino's enthusiasm and creativity, but it's her mother's love that proves most surprising and satisfying. In turn, the girl teaches them all something about taking responsibility. Grove peppers the plot with unrealistic scenes such as the sudden return of the pet rabbits that Destiny's stepfather had sold, or the quick reformation of Destiny's mother. But the vivid details and snappy dialogue in each of the characters' interactions keep this story grounded and valuable. Ages 10-up. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-8-Twelve-year-old Destiny Louise Capperson's life is complicated by three younger siblings, a mother whose plans for the future focus solely on winning the lottery, and her mother's unscrupulous boyfriend, Jack. The family's poverty is palpable. Destiny is embarrassed at having to help Jack sell not-so-fresh potatoes, often at the homes of the more popular girls in her school. Wanting to be an artist, she uses these same nearly rotten potatoes to create carvings. When a favorite teacher gets her a job reading to elderly Mrs. Peck, Destiny discovers much about herself in the worlds of Greek and Roman mythology. Grove tackles themes and issues similar to those in The Starplace (1999) and Reaching Dustin (1998, both Putnam): the unpopular adolescent outsider; the transcendent power of a special friendship; and the importance of redemption, hope, and believing in oneself. The ending is unfortunately too pat, as each subplot is neatly resolved. Mrs. Peck provides an answer to the family's darkest secret; Nathan's pet rabbits, auctioned by Jack to get money, are returned alive and well; Destiny's mother plans to return to school; and Jack ends up in jail. However, the book's strengths lie in Grove's lyrical writing style and especially in the first-person narration, which rings true with Destiny's memorable and poignant voice.-Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.