Fifteen-year-old Deanna Lambert is miserable. She can't find her niche with the popular kids at school and believes she is ugly. Then too, after her mother deserted the family to pursue an acting career in New York City, Deanna's father has grown distant and embittered. Now Deanna is saddled with most all the chores at home—and she and her dad barely communicate. Yet Deanna's one happy escape is her volunteer work at the nearby Children's Hospital. There the activities director convinces her to get back into her ventriloquism, a creative skill Deanna's grandfather had taught her years earlier. Deanna and her puppet, Ramblin' Roy, entertain and delight the young hospital patients, but Deanna is worried. What if the kids at her school discover what she's doing? Will they think she's just “a baby” who still plays with dolls? Deanna takes the risk, but one problem soon leads to another. Can she ever gain true acceptance at school, especially from Jason, the guy whom she has a major crush on? And most of all, can Deanna embrace her gift of ventriloquism, and in so doing, come to terms with her mother's leaving?
Dummy & Me is a sweet, lighthearted read that can appeal especially to those late in middle school or early in high school. It's a short read that can be finished pretty quickly, but still has some really strong themes and a fun voice, despite the small number of pages.
This story is truely unique, and intriguing, even for those of us who aren't huge fans of ventriliquism (those dummies are a bit creepy). Maybe I can't connect quite to Deanna's hobby, but all of us can relate to wanting to fit in and even being embarrased about what really makes us happy.
Which leads me into the wonderful themes of Dummy & Me. Through Deanna and her story, the reader is able to be inspired to do what makes them who they are, despite what others may think. Initially, Deanna was embarrased to perform her act in front of a crowd, even though it had already done a lot of good at the hospital. However, although she was scared, she went and performed, and it all worked out in the end.
Deanna is an inspiring character. She isn't perfect, but she has a voice that is very real and fun to read. Getting into her head is highly entertaining, even if it sends me back to my freshman days. She has a good heart, something that's clear from the very beginning.
I was a little disappointed in the length of Dummy & Me. Sometimes, the story felt a bit rushed, and I thought that more of the plot could be unpacked. However, the themes still got across strongly, so my opinion was not impacted by that too strongly.
All in all, Dummy & Me is a lovely, light read. Whether you are going through the transition into high school or trying to black out those memories, it's a good read to spend an evening with.