Dolores: Seven Stories About Her

Overview

"There was more to do than music, of course. She was a good human."

That's what Dolores's brother Jimmy thinks about her when she's seven years old and can scream Nirvana lyrics at the top of her lungs in a voice just as angry and knowing as any teenager's. Dolores is a force to be reckoned with. As she grows up through these seven stories, you can call her what you want — strangely beautiful, weird, quirky, a...

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Overview

"There was more to do than music, of course. She was a good human."

That's what Dolores's brother Jimmy thinks about her when she's seven years old and can scream Nirvana lyrics at the top of her lungs in a voice just as angry and knowing as any teenager's. Dolores is a force to be reckoned with. As she grows up through these seven stories, you can call her what you want — strangely beautiful, weird, quirky, a loner, brave — it doesn't matter. Because Dolores always will be, quite simply, Dolores.


About the Author

Bruce Brooks was born in Virginia and began writing fiction at age ten. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1972 and from the University Of Iowa Writer's Workshop in 1980. He has worked as a newspaper reporter, a magazine writer, newsletter editor, movie critic, teacher and lecturer.

Bruce Brooks has twice received the Newbery Honor, first in 1985 for Moves Make the Man, and again in 1992 for What Hearts. He is also the author of Everywhere, Midnight Hour Encores, Asylum for Nightface, Vanishing, and Throwing Smoke. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.

A series of events captures the life of a free-spirited girl as she grows from a savvy seven-year-old to a self-assured sixteen-year-old.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
An uncommonly beautiful and bright girl evolves from an outgoing, trusting seven-year-old to a cynical, seemingly friendless teenager. PW called Brooks's portrayal of Dolores "the literary equivalent of the adolescent experience: a heightened intelligence, a raised consciousness and a flurry of contradictions." Ages 12-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
VOYA
These seven quick stories introduce readers to Dolores, known as Do, the quirky iconoclast who hides her self-doubt behind her irreverent wit. She is cocky, fun, unconcerned with social norms, and although she is no stranger to fear, Do lives fearlessly. Over the course of the book, as Do grows from age seven to sixteen, readers also get to know her admirable older brother, Jimmy; her shy ninth-grade suitor; and her parents. The stories vary in quality; the first is terrific. It has everything a reader could want—love, danger, good friends, great music, and a totally cool yet completely nice hero, Jimmy. In the next three stories, however, Do at ages eight, eleven, and twelve is too precocious to believe. She speaks in long paragraphs about things such as power relationships, and there is no distinction between her voice at age eight and at twelve. By the time she is fourteen, Do gets interesting all over again. Readers will love the tale of her first kiss—and of William's, from whose point of view the story is told. When she is in tenth grade, Do, whose game always has been ice hockey, makes the cheerleading squad, to the chagrin of the other cookie-cutter cheerleaders at Central High who are more interested in how they look in their uniforms than in helping the team win. The last story features the same kind of breathless action seen in the first, neatly tying the collection together and leaving readers with ideas worth pondering. This book will find a natural place in libraries serving junior and senior high students. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades10 to 12). 2002, HarperCollins, 144p,
— Rebecca Barnhouse
From The Critics
There's just something about Dolores that draws everyone to her. Her unique personality, great sense of humor, and strong sense of identity make her a very interesting character to read about. Dolores is kidnapped, her parents get divorced, the kids at school start rumors about her, and just about every guy who lays eyes on her is so enchanted by her beauty that they all miss the real Dolores underneath. Yet through all of these things, she only grows stronger. Dolores' perspective encourages readers to be themselves without caring what other people think or say. The book is divided into six self-contained episodes, each one a story in itself. However, they all work together to create a picture of who Dolores really is in many different situations. Readers will feel like they truly know and love Dolores by the time they finish this engaging book. 2002, Harper Collins, 135 pp.,
— Janell Barnhart
School Library Journal
Gr 7-10-Witty dialogue, nonconformist antics, and mature insights bring loner Dolores to life in this sequence of seven stories that reveals pivotal moments in her life. At age seven, she is rescued from abductors by her older brother Jimmy, who works at Wal-Mart as a music guru in the CD department. While her divorced parents vie for influence over their children, Dolores appreciates the predictability and bohemian encouragement of her father, who buys her an electric guitar and signs her up for ice hockey in spite of the restrictive attitudes of her disapproving mother. Dolores is comfortable with herself. Sixth-grade playground teasing and rumors about her prematurely big chest and her supposed crush on a female teacher go nowhere because the girl calmly turns the other cheek. At a high school party, the teen eludes the mocking sexual intent of a macho basketball star and finds kindness and a shared music interest with William, a classmate who has admired her from afar. And finally, at age 16, Dolores is abducted by a passerby, but this time she saves herself. Do is an intriguing, sophisticated character whose clever verbal sparring reveals truths about herself and others. Her brother and father are constants in her life, and she is a loner but not lonely. Brooks taps into adolescent interests with his timely references to music, fashion, and sports. In Dolores, he has created an engaging character whose indomitable spirit defies labels, abuse, and conformity, and whose coming-of-age vignettes are both lighthearted and liberated.-Gerry Larson, Durham School of the Arts, NC Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In this meticulously written short-story collection, Brooks chronicles the life of a singular young girl as she travels the rocky road from seven to sixteen. Symmetrical in that it starts out with her attempted kidnapping and ends with her attempted rape, Dolores copes with the breakup of her parents, spars with some school bullies, develops her own mode of cheerleading, bickers with her mother, and finally meets a young man worthy of her smarts and style. Articulate and opinionated, Dolores is a winning heroine, gifted with a fierce intelligence, a combative personality, and an unconventional turn of mind. Girls should admire the tough-minded Dolores, who at 12 speaks with a vocabulary and self-possession a woman of 40 could envy. And there's the rub. Although Dolores is a fetching and fascinating creation, she's such a poised and complete personality that she doesn't seem to be quite of this earth. Few sixth-grade girls would coolly ask an enemy why "instead of coming over and asking a direct question, you . . . hang back and plan campaigns of malicious rumors." Additionally, it's not clear just who the author is writing for. For example, although the story "Ladies for Lunch" is both touching and trenchant, it reads like it's a tale written for adults that just happens to have a child character in it. Still, Brooks wows the reader with his finely honed craft, piercing dry wit, and clever turn of phrase. (Fiction. 10+)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060278182
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
  • Publication date: 4/1/2002
  • Edition description: FIRST
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 135
  • Age range: 10 - 14 Years
  • Lexile: 1020L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.21 (w) x 7.79 (h) x 0.71 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The thing is, of course, no one would ever have hung out someplace as tacky as the Wal-Mart if it hadn't been for Jimmy getting the job of ordering CDs for the music department and stocking the coolest music in town. Everyone knew Wal-Mart was for trailer-park lowlifes. You didn't even want your car to be seen driving in the parking lot of the Wal-Mart.

But Jimmy had thought ahead. As soon as he saw the backhoes digging and the little board sign saying wal-mart is coming! he decided to try it. Three weeks before the store opened, he put on a tie and went in to see the manager and just blew the guy away with all he knew about music -- all kinds of music -- especially what kids would buy. Jimmy even had these graphs he'd cut out of magazines showing how much money kids spent on CDs, talking “market share” and all that sort of thing; the manager not only hired him but pretty much gave him complete freedom to order anything he thought would interest the coolest kids -- imports, singles, stuff from really small indie labels, whatever. When he got a look at Jimmy's ponytail, he did ask that Jimmy check with him before stocking any CDs with “potentially family-inappropriate” covers, but otherwise . . .

So everybody started hanging out at (gulp) Wal-Mart in the evening, especially Fridays, but only in the music section, and then only in the part of the music section that Jimmy had created and entitled new music beneath an officially printed card just like the other sections -- country and pop vocals and even rock, which was different from most of the stuff Jimmy's buddies liked. Jimmy wrote to AP and Magnet and Option andWire and got them to send him tear sheets of their review sections, so when you read an enticing review in the copy of Option that came in your mail, chances were good that you would find it waiting for you at Wal-Mart, expensive but immediately available. But of course before you just went and paid for it, you'd want to talk to everybody else about what other reviews you might have missed in zines you didn't see, and it was like some kind of music discussion club, only cool. There were maybe fifteen such musicheads in his crew, and any night, especially Friday, at least nine or ten would be there. Even when Jimmy's shift started late in the evening, the kids were hanging when he arrived.

The manager was pretty mellow about them, considering how strange they looked in the store, scuffing around in baggy skater clothes and crumpled Vans, some with huge jeans, hockey sweaters over hooded sweatshirts, almost all of them carrying a decent crop of zits too, with baseball caps on backward, doo rags, or a lot of hair. To say the least, they didn't fit in among the super-permed peroxide-blond young moms trying not to look like moms, and the poor but proudly spiff minorities. But the kids, raunchy as they may have looked, had jobs after school, and thus money, and music was what they spent it on. An imported Vandals CD live from a concert in Cologne went for twenty-four dollars, a Silvertones collection from a tiny Chapel Hill label was seventeen dollars -- and everybody bought three or four discs a week.

Jimmy hung out with them too, on duty and everything, as if he were being a salesman, which in fact he was. Despite being “dressed up” the way all Wal-Mart employees had to be, he looked pretty decent, in his baggy Girbaud khakis and a way-big denim shirt with one of those Perry Ellis “junk” ties or something. Mostly he always knew, way ahead of time, what music to turn them on to, with a specificity that was secretly touching to each of them. He'd hold out a disc and say, “I ordered this for you because I think you'll get into the way the guy stays at home on the low end of the bass,” or “Try this out and see if you don't think these two German dudes have outrun techno and are making real music out of found noise the way you've been trying to do with your mobile recordings of machinery and street crowds.” Jimmy knew his tunes, but more importantly, he knew his people.

For Jimmy, the only problem was that every Friday night he had to take Dolores with him. His parents had always insisted on “dating” each other regularly, as if this would make them like each other better, and Friday was their favorite night to get a sitter and go out. But since he had turned fifteen, he had become the automatic sitter for his seven-year-old sister. He had his own car, an old VW Beetle he had modestly reconditioned himself, and his parents allowed him to take Dolores out instead of keeping her home, as long as everything was safe. And his boss said he could keep his sister with him as long as the CDs kept moving. Dolores, he thought, really was pretty great for a little kid -- growing up around him and his friends had made her hip beyond her years, and his friends had come to treat her more or less as an expected part of the whole crowd, half in a mascot sort of way, half as a real participant in whatever was happening. But after all, she was only seven, she still needed supervision, so he could never really relax when she was along...

Dolores. Copyright © by Bruce Brooks. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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First Chapter

Dolores
Seven Stories About Her

Chapter One

The thing is, of course, no one would ever have hung out someplace as tacky as the Wal-Mart if it hadn't been for Jimmy getting the job of ordering CDs for the music department and stocking the coolest music in town. Everyone knew Wal-Mart was for trailer-park lowlifes. You didn't even want your car to be seen driving in the parking lot of the Wal-Mart.

But Jimmy had thought ahead. As soon as he saw the backhoes digging and the little board sign saying wal-mart is coming! he decided to try it. Three weeks before the store opened, he put on a tie and went in to see the manager and just blew the guy away with all he knew about music -- all kinds of music -- especially what kids would buy. Jimmy even had these graphs he'd cut out of magazines showing how much money kids spent on CDs, talking "market share" and all that sort of thing; the manager not only hired him but pretty much gave him complete freedom to order anything he thought would interest the coolest kids -- imports, singles, stuff from really small indie labels, whatever. When he got a look at Jimmy's ponytail, he did ask that Jimmy check with him before stocking any CDs with "potentially family-inappropriate" covers, but otherwise . . .

So everybody started hanging out at (gulp) Wal-Mart in the evening, especially Fridays, but only in the music section, and then only in the part of the music section that Jimmy had created and entitled new music beneath an officially printed card just like the other sections -- country and pop vocals and even rock, which was different from most of the stuff Jimmy's buddies liked. Jimmy wrote to AP and Magnet and Option and Wire and got them to send him tear sheets of their review sections, so when you read an enticing review in the copy of Option that came in your mail, chances were good that you would find it waiting for you at Wal-Mart, expensive but immediately available. But of course before you just went and paid for it, you'd want to talk to everybody else about what other reviews you might have missed in zines you didn't see, and it was like some kind of music discussion club, only cool. There were maybe fifteen such musicheads in his crew, and any night, especially Friday, at least nine or ten would be there. Even when Jimmy's shift started late in the evening, the kids were hanging when he arrived.

The manager was pretty mellow about them, considering how strange they looked in the store, scuffing around in baggy skater clothes and crumpled Vans, some with huge jeans, hockey sweaters over hooded sweatshirts, almost all of them carrying a decent crop of zits too, with baseball caps on backward, doo rags, or a lot of hair. To say the least, they didn't fit in among the super-permed peroxide-blond young moms trying not to look like moms, and the poor but proudly spiff minorities. But the kids, raunchy as they may have looked, had jobs after school, and thus money, and music was what they spent it on. An imported Vandals CD live from a concert in Cologne went for twenty-four dollars, a Silvertones collection from a tiny Chapel Hill label was seventeen dollars -- and everybody bought three or four discs a week.

Jimmy hung out with them too, on duty and everything, as if he were being a salesman, which in fact he was. Despite being "dressed up" the way all Wal-Mart employees had to be, he looked pretty decent, in his baggy Girbaud khakis and a way-big denim shirt with one of those Perry Ellis "junk" ties or something. Mostly he always knew, way ahead of time, what music to turn them on to, with a specificity that was secretly touching to each of them. He'd hold out a disc and say, "I ordered this for you because I think you'll get into the way the guy stays at home on the low end of the bass," or "Try this out and see if you don't think these two German dudes have outrun techno and are making real music out of found noise the way you've been trying to do with your mobile recordings of machinery and street crowds." Jimmy knew his tunes, but more importantly, he knew his people.

For Jimmy, the only problem was that every Friday night he had to take Dolores with him. His parents had always insisted on "dating" each other regularly, as if this would make them like each other better, and Friday was their favorite night to get a sitter and go out. But since he had turned fifteen, he had become the automatic sitter for his seven-year-old sister. He had his own car, an old VW Beetle he had modestly reconditioned himself, and his parents allowed him to take Dolores out instead of keeping her home, as long as everything was safe. And his boss said he could keep his sister with him as long as the CDs kept moving. Dolores, he thought, really was pretty great for a little kid -- growing up around him and his friends had made her hip beyond her years, and his friends had come to treat her more or less as an expected part of the whole crowd, half in a mascot sort of way, half as a real participant in whatever was happening. But after all, she was only seven, she still needed supervision, so he could never really relax when she was along...

Dolores
Seven Stories About Her
. Copyright © by Bruce Brooks. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Reading Group Guide

About This Guide:

This collection of stories from two-time Newbery Honor-winning author Bruce Brooks is about an unusual, completely original girl named Dolores. The discussion topics are intended to spark conversations and ideas about the issues raised in this book.

About This Book:

She is spunky. She is poised. She is tough. She is Dorlores, and she makes an indelible impression in this original and thought-provoking new novel from two-time Newbery Honor author Bruce Brooks.

Capturing different stages in a girl's life from ages seven to seventeen, this lively collection of stories shows how hard it is to truly know someone, even when you get some good long looks. Unusually candid and joyous at the same time, Dolores is a girl you want to know and will never be able to forget.

Questions For Discussion:

  1. What does the first story about Dolores, "Half Good in Black," tell us about her character?

  2. Discuss how the chapters in the book are arranged. Do you think the layout of the book lets us see more of Dolores or less? What do you think the author's intention was in setting up the book this way?

  3. What are some character traits of Dolores that are consistent throughout the book? How can you tell? Can you find any changes in her personality?

  4. What chapter do you think tells us the most about Dolores? Why?

  5. Discuss the conversation between Dolores and Shelley in the locker room in the chapter "Do They Mean It?" Do you think the rumors and name-calling bothered Dolores? Why do you think Dolores was alone so much of the time?

  6. Discuss the chapter "Ladies for Lunch." How does Dolores's mother feel about her? How does Dolores interact with her mother? Why is Dolores so protective of her father?

  7. Discuss Dolores's relationship with her brother. Do you think they remain as close as they were in the first story? Why or why not?

  8. Why does Dolores get along so well with William in the chapter "Multiplicity?" What qualities does William have that many other people in the book who have interactions with Dolores don't have?

  9. Compare the scene in the last story in the book, where Dolores gets into the car with a strange man, to the first story in the book. Why do you think the author ended the book this way? Why do you think she got into the car? Does this give the reader important insight about Dolores?

  10. In the last chapter Jimmy says, "Dolores is pretty tough for being so young." Luisa replies, "I'd say Dolores is pretty young for being so tough." What do you think she means by this?

About The Author:

Bruce Brooks was born in Virginia and began writing fiction at age ten. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel hill in 1972 and from the University of Iowa Writer's Workshop in 1980. He has worked as a newspaper reporter, a magazine writer, newletter editor, movie critic, teacher, and lecturer.

Bruce Brooks has twice received the Newbery Honor, first in 1985 for The Moves Make the Man, and again in 1992 for What Hearts. He is also the author of Everywhere, Midnight Hour Encores, Asylum for Nightface, Vanishing, and Throwing Smoke. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2003

    If you like life stories then you should read this awesome book.

    Delores was a great book. I really got into this book. The author did a great job describing Delores, the main character, she is very believable. She is a down to earth girl who doesn't care what other people think of her. She is just like all the boys, she even plays on a traveling boys hockey team. Delores is a fun and easy book to read. so, if you like life stories read this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2002

    Resisting girl stereotypes

    Here is an emotionally strong and smart girl who resists most easy girl 'types.' Dolores reveals her identity in action -- unusual in fictional leading female characters. She's refreshing and real: recognizable in the midst of her peers, and the peers are recognizable, too. Does the fact that she has been created by a male author have anything to do with this? Brooks shows Dolores developing through close relationships with her father and brother, and also through alienating ones with women (her mother)and girls (her peer groups at school.) She does not want to be like the more conforming females, but she also is most appreciated by the less conforming males. Dolores's original and feisty character sparkles with interest. She is bright and edgy in all of the seven stories that make up this book, and at all of the ages at which we glimpse her development. By the last story, at age seventeen, Dolores has morphed into a kind of supergirl, outsmarting a potential rapist in a violent encounter. But why does she run away at the last minute, once everything is tied up and the villain is trapped? Is it a final rejection of controlling males (the police?)or something else? Dolores won't be pinned down. Part of her triumph is in the leaving of certain messes for others to clean up. A woman who can do that is speaking the 'bad girl' language we women are occasionally pleased to cheer.

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