Dovey Coe

Dovey Coe

4.6 44
by Frances O'Roark Dowell

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When accused of murder in her North Carolina mountain town in 1928, Dovey Coe, a strong-willed 12-year-old girl, comes to a new understanding of others, including her deaf brother.


When accused of murder in her North Carolina mountain town in 1928, Dovey Coe, a strong-willed 12-year-old girl, comes to a new understanding of others, including her deaf brother.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The 12-year-old title character narrates this first novel, in which she attempts to set the record straight about the death of her sister's suitor. PW called Dowell "an author well worth watching." Ages 9-12. (Nov.) n Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature - Children's Literature
"My name is Dovey Coe, and I reckon it don't matter if you like me or not." This startling opening line of Dowell's young adult novel Dovey Coe commands instant attention. Dowell's first published novel plunges readers into the sensitivities of a feisty, insightful twelve-year-old who takes no nonsense, talks straight, and whose voice creates a tension that pulls the plotline taut. What comes next after Dovey Coe's remarkable opening line is a stunning first paragraph; it ends with the clincher: "I hated Parnell Caraway as much as the next person, but I didn't kill him." Parnell Caraway, readers soon learn, is the haughty son of a local merchant and Dovey's archenemy. Dovey begins the book by seeing life in stark contrasts, and it is this perspective that eventually leads to her growth. Dovey believes her brother Amos needs her, but, in the end, she discovers she is the one who needs him. Her combative dialogue and actions make her the target of assumptions that threaten to condemn her at the trial; it's only at the trial when she is being judged that she understands how she herself has condemned Parnell. As Parnell's sister cries, she realizes what Amos' death would mean to her. "I let that feeling sink deep inside me," she says, "and when Mama took my hand to lead me outside, the tears were falling down my own cheeks." Even Dovey's voice mirrors these contrasts; she speaks with a boldness softened by the lyricism of mountain dialect. Dovey describes the opposing lawyer as "a comical looking sort, as he had no chin to speak of and his eyes was kind of buggy, like a frog's." After this frank assessment of his looks, she continues with another metaphor: "He could string words together andmake them shine like lights around a Christmas tree." 2000, Atheneum, Ages 9 to 12, $16.00. Reviewer: Susie Wilde
Dovey Coe is a twelveyear-old girl accused of a murder she did not commit. Dovey is fiercely protective of her attractive older sister and deaf younger brother. Her sharp insights and feelings about the residents of her rural town expose the rift between the rich and poor. When tensions rise between the Coe family and the wealthy Caraways, the stage is set for the murder of Parnell Caraway. Some of the novel's most revealing scenes unfold in the courtroom in which a city lawyer defends Dovey at her trial. Although the premise suggests a mystery story, insights into the town's history, anecdotes of its notable characters, and the unspoken animosity of residents to young Dovey lend depth to the 1928 setting and to the novel's rich blend of rural characters. The feisty voice of the female narrator carries this story. The book bears positive messages about family pride, selfreliance, and inner beauty. Dovey's strength of character alone is worth the read for younger middle school girls. This wellwritten novel is a worthy addition to any middle school collection. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P M (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8). 2000, Atheneum/S & S, Ages 12 to 14, 192p, $16. Reviewer: Nick Spencer
School Library Journal
Gr 4-7-It is 1928 and 12-year-old Dovey Coe is happy with her life in Indian Creek, NC. Her family has been in the mountains "since the beginning of time." They own their land and are one of the few families who are not beholden to wealthy Homer Caraway. Dovey guards her siblings closely. She taught her deaf older brother how to read books and lips, and worries about her older sister, Caroline, who seems to have forgotten her plans to go to teacher's college after uppity Parnell Caraway (Dovey's least favorite person) starts calling on her. How protective a little sister she actually is, remains to be seen-she tells readers in the first paragraph that she is being tried for Parnell's murder, then proceeds to recount what happened. The story maintains a very fast pace, and Dovey is an original character who speaks with a mountain twang that brings the vivid setting to life without distracting from the plot. The background and characters are carefully developed and appealing. Dovey's adventures will appeal to fans of Avi's The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle (Orchard, 1990), while the mystery follows conventions of the genre and is explained in an entirely satisfactory manner.-Betsy Fraser, Calgary Public Library, Canada Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Kirkus Reviews
Proud mountainfolk, the Coe family has resided in Indian Creek, North Carolina, since 1844. Joe Coe fixes electrical appliances; 12-year-old Dovey and 13-year-old Amos collect healing herbs to sell. Dovey's older sister, Caroline, is a rare beauty who has dreams of escaping small-town life. Their tranquil home life is threatened when Parnell Caraway, son of the richest man in town, sets his sights on Caroline. He is so determined to marry her and destroy her dreams of becoming a teacher that he forces her hand at a send-off party in her honor and faces public humiliation as a result. Unable to handle rejection, Parnell locks up the Coe's dog in revenge, forcing Dovey to retrieve it and to witness its brutal murder. She tries to stop it and is attacked by Parnell. When she awakens from the beating, Parnell is dead at her side and she is falsely accused of murder. Assigned an inexperienced district attorney, Dovey has to solve the murder herself or face imprisonment. In the end, she is spared the injustice of being sent to a girls' detention center; Caroline owns up to the fact that her flirtations with Parnell have caused this disastrous result; and Amos reveals to his sister that he, in fact, killed Parnell to spare her additional abuse at his hands. Dovey's fresh, clear voice in southern dialect cuts through the social behavior of the locale and time period to speak the truth, which all of the other older and wiser characters refuse to see. This fabulously feisty heroine will win your heart. (Fiction. 10-12)

"A delightful book, thoughtful and full of substance."
From the Publisher
* "Dovey is an original character who speaks with a mountain twang that brings the vivid setting to life."

"This fabulously feisty heroine will win your heart."

"A delightful book, thoughtful and full of substance."

"Bears positive messages about family pride, self-reliance, and inner beauty. Dovey's strength of character alone is well worth the reader for young middle school girls. A worthy addition to any middle school collection."

Product Details

Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group
Publication date:
Aladdin Fiction
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.40(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
10 - 13 Years

Read an Excerpt

Dovey Coe

By Frances O'Roark Dowell

Atheneum Books

Copyright © 2000 Frances O'Roark Dowell
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0689831749

Chapter 1

My name is Dovey Coe, and I reckon it don't matter if you like me or not. I'm here to lay the record straight, to let you know them folks saying I done a terrible thing are liars. I aim to prove it, too. I hated Parnell Caraway as much as the next person, but I didn't kill him.

I know plenty of folks who thought about it once or twice, after Parnell shot a BB gun at their cats or broke their daughters' hearts. They're the same ones who go around now making out like Parnell was an angel, a regular pillar of society. The truth is, there ain't no one in Indian Creek who didn't believe Parnell Caraway was the meanest, vainest, greediest man who ever lived. Seventeen years old and rotten to the core.

Of course, his daddy being the richest man in town meant Parnell could do about whatever he pleased without anybody saying boo back to him. Most of the folks who live in town rent their houses from Homer Caraway and buy their dry goods from his store, and they know better than to cross him. You so much as look at Homer Caraway wrong and he can make your life right miserable.

Every time I start complaining about having to walk a half mile down the mountain to school every morning, I remember how lucky we are to own our land. It ain't much -- four acres, a five-room house, and a barn -- but it keeps us Coes from being beholden to Homer Caraway, and I'd walk ten miles to school to keep it that way.

I know it pained Parnell that we weren't indebted to his daddy. Maybe if we had been, my sister Caroline would have married him the way he kept asking her to do. Caroline Coe was the one thing Parnell wanted he couldn't have. As conceited as Parnell was, it took him a long time to figure that out.

But I'm getting ahead of myself, which I do from time to time. You probably want to know where I'm from and who my family is, the particulars folks tend to be interested in.

Like I said, my name is Dovey Coe. There have been Coes living in Indian Creek, North Carolina, since the beginning of time, and I expect there always will be. We're mountain folk, and once you been living in the mountains for a while, it's hard to live anywhere else. You can walk over to the graveyard behind the church in town and see Coes going as far back as 1844. The most recent stone belongs to my Granddaddy Caleb, who passed on two years ago, when I was ten. It says: HERE LIES CALEB COE, LOVING HUSBAND TO REBECCA COE, FATHER TO MATTHEW, LUKE, AND JOHN COE. BORN MAY 17, 1861. DIED DECEMBER 2, 1926. MAY HE WALK WITH THE LORD.

John Coe is my daddy. He's what they call a jack-of-all-trades, meaning he can fix anything you got that's broke and some things that ain't. Folks bring him their busted radios, their hay-wire toasters, their broke-down automobiles, and Daddy tightens a screw here, reconnects a wire there, and makes it good as new. Them who have money to pay give him a dollar or two, depending on the size of the job, and them who don't have a dime in their pocket work out a barter. When Gaither Sparks's carburetor died, we got a new pig and a pound of sugar. It evens out, as Daddy is all the time saying.

Mama grew up over in Cane Creek Holler, not two miles from here. She still hums the songs she learned when she was a little girl while she works around the house, and she has taught many of them songs to me. I try my best to remember them the right way, and I always pretend like I'm paying attention when she's telling me all the things she says a young lady ought to know.

Besides Caroline, I got me an older brother named Amos, age of thirteen, and he loves good adventure as much as I do. We spend a good portion of our days running around on Katie's Knob, hunting arrowheads or hunks of crystal quartz, tracking all manner of wild animals and generally having a big time.

We live in the house my daddy grew up in, and every morning I look out upon the same mountains my daddy looked out upon when he was a child. I like sitting on the porch watching the summer evenings fall across the valley, listening to Daddy pick old tunes on his guitar. I enjoy the cozy feel of sitting next to the woodstove when there's a frosty bite in the air.

There's at least a million other things that all add up to my good life here, more things than I can say or even remember, they're so natural to me now.

That's why it's hard to believe they might send me away from here.

It's not that I blamed Caroline for this whole mess. I know deep inside it ain't exactly her fault. But on top of things, it sure feels that way.

Copyright © 2000 by Frances O'Roark Dowell


Excerpted from Dovey Coe by Frances O'Roark Dowell Copyright © 2000 by Frances O'Roark Dowell. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Frances O’Roark Dowell is the bestselling and critically acclaimed author of Dovey Coe, which won the Edgar Award and the William Allen White Award; Where I’d Like to Be; The Secret Language of Girls and its sequels The Kind of Friends We Used to Be and The Sound of Your Voice, Only Really Far Away; Chicken Boy; Shooting the Moon, which was awarded the Christopher Medal; the Phineas L. MacGuire series; Falling In; the critically acclaimed The Second Life of Abigail Walker; Anybody Shining; Ten Miles Past Normal; and most recently, Trouble the Water. She lives with her husband and two sons in Durham, North Carolina. Connect with Frances online at

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Dovey Coe 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 44 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Dovey coe was one of the best books i have ever read.When you read the book it just takes you to the place.It takes you straight into her mind.i highly recommend you read this book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mrs.larson is my reading teacher and she just started reding it. Its just revoltingly sickining how Caroline uses her beauty to get what she wants. But so far so good.(wonder if its a related title to 'how to kill a mockingbird?)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is book is AMAZING! It is narrated by Dovey herself and I wouldnt want any other way! I am not good at explaining things so just take my advice and read it. You will NEVER regret it, or think you wasted your time for a minute.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was worried about the content for my 11 year old, but I have to say that once he started to read it he didn't want to stop. And he doesn't like reading.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is the absolute best book i've ever read. I loved it so much I had to keep reading and reading it. It's definately a book you never want to put down. The first time I read I thought I was going to cry. But I finally grew to know the true meaning
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was awesome and rocked!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
When I read this book for a book report, I thought it was the best book I had ever picked up. It was so interesting, that I finished it in 2 days.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book is a really good book it helps find out that no matter what family always comes throug for you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was a great book that everyone should read!I loved it. Peace Out!!!:)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
(Female from d7) is there actually any games or is this a chatroom? Post postpostpostpost
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
9. Can't take it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im in 10th grade and we have to read this book its horrible i hate it
Dizzy-Wizzy More than 1 year ago
My book is Dovey Coe by Frances O&rsquo;Roark Dowell about a girl named Dovey Coe and her sister Caroline. Caroline is supposed to get married to this guy that she meets named Parnell. One night something bad happened to him. Caroline was supposed to go see him one day and when she went to go see him she saw him lying there on the ground dead. Someone has killed him by cutting his throat with a knife. People thought it was Dovey that killed him from being jealous so she went to court to see if she was guilty or not. This book is told by a girl named Dovey Coe. Dovey and the Coe family have been living in Indian Creek North Carolina since the beginning of time. In this book Dovey&rsquo;s sister Caroline meets this guy and his name is Parnell. Caroline and Parnell become really good friends and like to hang out with each other a lot. After a while in the book Caroline and Parnell get so close to each other that Parnell purposed to Caroline. Everyone was so happy for them. One day Caroline went to go see Parnell one day, when she got there she saw Parnell lying on the floor dead. Caroline was so upset and wondered why anyone would do such a thing to him. His death was caused by someone cut his throat with a knife. Some people thought that Dovey did it because she was jealous of Caroline getting married. They took Dovey to court for what they thought that she had done. When they took Dovey to court they realized that a sweet girl like her couldn&rsquo;t do such a thing. They figured that someone else had killed Parnell then. That&rsquo;s the main things that happened in this book.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
¿I hated Parnell Caraway, but not enough to kill him.¿ The title of my book was Dovey Coe, by Frances O¿ Roark Dowell. Dovey Coe did not like the way Parnell Caraway was courting her sister, Caroline. Parnell was a rich, snobby man, and the thing he wanted, but did not have was Caroline. He always visited the Coe¿s house, and on Caroline¿s ¿go away to college party¿, he proposed to her, but she firmly refused. Then, Parnell was very mad at Dovey because he thought it was her fault that Caroline did not like him. Later, Dovey was found in the same room at the same time Parnell was murdered, and she went to court. Dovey finally learned that it was important to treat your family members the way you wanted to be treated. Dovey Coe was very brave. When Parnell threw a brick at her deaf brother¿s dog, she stuck her knife out and made a wild stab at him. Then, when Parnell started to hit her, she slashed at him again. Also, unlike her older sister, Dovey was not bothered by the thought of roaming through the woods by herself. She was a girl that was not afraid of anything. In addition to being bold, Dovey Coe was not afraid to speak her mind. In the beginning of the story, she said, ¿My name is Dovey Coe and I reckon it don¿t matter if you like me or not.¿ When she really disagreed with her sister, Dovey cried, ¿Caroline, have you gone and lost your senses?¿ What¿s more, on her court hearing, she said to her lawyer, ¿What is wrong with you son, you acted like this was your first trial, you were so flustered!¿, after he did a poor job at the first hearing. Sometimes, her family members were not very happy with Dovey because they wanted her to act like a lady, but she still spoke her heart. Furthermore, Dovey Coe was proud of everything she had. When she complained about having to walk to school for 10 miles, she stopped and remembered how lucky the Coes were to own their own land. Dovey was very swollen with pride of her dad, ¿John Coe is my daddy. He¿s what they call a jack-of-all-trades, meaning he can fix anything.¿ Also, Dovey was very proud of her family history. She said that there had been Coes living in Indian Creek since the beginning of time. Dovey Coe was brave, not afraid to speak her mind, and proud of the things she had. It made me think that Dovey was a strong, determined person that never gave up. I liked the character because she was always trying to be kind to people. In the end, she proved herself smart by winning the trials. In conclusion, Dovey understands her mom, dad, older sister, and especially her deaf brother much more than she used to.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed the book Dovey Coe..Parnell is in love with Cariline (Dovey's sister) and when she tells him 'no' he tries to get when he gets hit with a soda canister he blames Dovey because she was in there at the time,the story takes a really unexpected turn and it ends up being Amos!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Dovey Coe Is the biggest tomboy in the world I think. But when you find her in a situation were she is caught guilty but she really isn't. Parnell was a down right awful teen who was in love with Caroline {Dovey's older sister}. And when he proposes Caroline says no and he tries to get back at the family. That is why Amos just had to hit him in the head with the soda canister. And Paris {Parnell's younger sister}tells awful lies. Then Dovey is caught inosent and nobody knows that Amos did it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This Book is so awesome!! This is a definite must read! It is exciting and living in North Carolina myself it makes me feel like i am here. YOU HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK!! I love books and this is the best mystery type book i have read! People have to be almost crazy if they don't like the book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed Dovey Coe. I liked the way it was written and the style that the author used. I really felt as though I was listening to people from the mountain region of NC talk. I loved how she was able to re-create their language. I think this book is fantastic! I really got into it and wanted to know what was going to happen. The way the story is told and with the accents used, it just makes me feel like I am there, in the mountains in a small town. I liked learning about the characters and all they were going through. I think this story is wonderful. I would highly recommend it for fourth and fifth graders, whether as a read aloud or one they could do on their own. There are many things that could be taught from this book. I liked the fact that this story was told from Dovey's point of view. She was just trying to explain what had happened and that she did not kill anyone. This book kept me wanthing to read on. At the end of each chapter I wanted to know what was going to happen, so I would continue to read. I did not want to stop and put the book down. I read most of this book in one sitting. I would use this book to talk about the Appalachian region of NC. This is something children will study in fourth grade, when they do North Carolina geography. Students in the western region of the state will be familiar with the names of these places and the area. Let students hold a mock-trial in the classroom of the court case to practice what they know about the judicial system. Dovey Coe is a unique story. Dovey is trying to explain why she everyone thought she killed someone. She spends most of her time with her brother Amos, who is deaf. Dovey tries to take care of him and protect him, even though he is slightly older than her. Dovey's older sister Caroline is beautiful and everyone thinks so. Caroline however, does not like to be thought of as just a pretty face. She is smart too. She has plans to go to the Teachers' College in Boone and get a degree. Well Parnell Caraway tries to change all that and make Caroline his bride. Dovey does not like this idea from the beginning. When she buts in, Parnell gets mad and lets her know that it is not her business. Towards the end of the book, Dovey is trying to protect one of Amos's dogs and ends up being accused with the murder of Parnell Caraway. She has to go to court and overcome many obstacles. This book is truly great and a wonderful depiction of mountain life.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was really good but is not the best book I have ever read. My friend suggested that i read it. It was very good.