Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

Defining Dulcie

Defining Dulcie

4.7 7
by Paul Acampora

See All Formats & Editions

From a debut author comes a story of finding oneself in a place all too familiar.

After Dulcie Morrigan Jones's dad dies, her mom decides they need to find a new life in California. But Dulcie doesn't understand what's wrong with her old life back in Newbury, Connecticut. So she heads across country and back home in her father's red 1968 Chevy pickup truck. When she


From a debut author comes a story of finding oneself in a place all too familiar.

After Dulcie Morrigan Jones's dad dies, her mom decides they need to find a new life in California. But Dulcie doesn't understand what's wrong with her old life back in Newbury, Connecticut. So she heads across country and back home in her father's red 1968 Chevy pickup truck. When she arrives, she meets Roxanne, a girl whose home life makes Dulcie see that her own situation may not be all that bad after all. And as the summer comes to an end, Dulcie realizes that maybe it's necessary to leave a place in order to come back and find out who you really are.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Acampora deftly mixes the bitter with the sweet throughout this first novel. Sixteen-year-old Dulcie Morrigan Jones's father, a janitor at her high school, has just died as a result of inadvertently mixing together and inhaling two chemically incompatible cleaning solutions. "Isn't losing Dad enough of a change?" the narrator asks when her mother announces that the two of them will be moving from Connecticut to California. After bidding farewell to her beloved grandfather, Frank, Dulcie and her mother head west in her father's 1968 Chevy pickup. When Dulcie's mother later decides to trade in the pick-up, the prospect of losing this remnant of her father is too much, and Dulcie drives it back to the home she cannot leave behind. She moves in with Frank, also a janitor, and spends the summer working with him and another student, Roxanne. Much of the novel's charm grows out of Dulcie's budding friendship with Roxanne, who is coping with an abusive mother, and the humor bandied about between the two girls and Frank. Dulcie's narrative realistically mixes joy and pain in reminiscences about her father and her solo cross-country journey, which included visits to the Kansas Fainting Goat Farm and the Shrine of Holy Relics in Ohio. Reflecting on her Ohio stop, Dulcie muses that her father's truck, the dictionaries he gave to her, and her grandfather's kitchen table "were my own relics-pieces and fragments of places and people that I could hold and remember." A carefully crafted, impressive debut. Ages 10-up. (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
When Dulcie's father dies unexpectedly on the job of toxic fumes—he was a janitor—Mom decides a fresh start in California is just what they need. Dulcie is unconvinced but at sixteen is unable to make her vote count. In California, Mom decides to sell Dad's '68 Chevy pickup and Dulcie is pushed over the edge. Armed with her mother's credit card, she takes off and drives back to Connecticut and her grandfather. She spends the summer working with her grandfather, befriending Roxanne, and adjusting to life without her parents. When Roxanne's mother becomes abusive, Dulcie begins to understand the importance of parents—but the story does not end with everything tied up in a bow. The writing is witty and the characters are interesting, to say the least. 2006, Dial/Penguin, Ages 10 to 14.
—Joan Kindig, Ph.D.
If sixteen-year-old Dulcie Jones were making a movie of her life, she would cast Harrison Ford as her father-and rewrite the screenplay so that Ford would live. Dulcie's life is not a film, and her father does not survive, but her life moves on. Following her father's funeral, Dulcie and her mother relocate to California, where Dulcie feels disconnected from her New England roots. Even after weeks gazing at San Francisco Bay, Dulcie misses home, so when her mother makes plans to sell her father's '68 Chevy pickup, Dulcie makes her own bold move. Stealing the truck, she drives back to Connecticut to live with her grandfather and return to her job as his student janitor at the local high school. Dulcie finds unexpected friendship upon returning, and the bond that she forms with her new coworker, Roxanne Soule, redefines both their lives when Roxanne leaves her abusive home. Acampora's first novel is a splendidly unpretentious story about the resiliency of the human spirit. It is a consummate blend of clever dialogue and engaging narrative peppered with Dulcie's hilarious and heartwarming reminiscences about the places she visits on her cross-country journey. Acampora's work strikes a perfect balance between the serious and the comical. His strong and delightfully human characters are sure to appeal across gender lines. Recommended for skilled and reluctant readers ages ten and up, Dulcie's story will particularly appeal to those who enjoy reading Joan Bauer, Sharon Creech, and Richard Peck. Make room for Dulcie on your bookshelves now. VOYA CODES: 5Q 5P M J S (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Every YA (who reads) was dying to read it yesterday; Middle School, defined as grades6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2006, Dial, 176p., Ages 11 to 18.
—Sherry Korthals
Children's Literature - Valerie O. Patterson
After Dulcie Jones's dad, a high school janitor, dies in a workplace accident, her hairdresser mother uproots her from Connecticut and from her grandfather, and they move to California to start a new life. Once there, Dulcie's mother tells her she has decided to sell Dulcie's dad's old Chevy truck in favor of a Volvo station wagon. Dulcie argues with her mother, saying the truck is the last thing they have that belonged to her dad. The next day Dulcie leaves her mother a note saying she owes her money for the truck, and she drives it back to Connecticut. She arrives there to find that her grandfather, also a janitor, has hired a new girl, Roxanne, to help him. He agrees that Dulcie can spend the summer in Connecticut, subject to certain conditions, including working for him for free to repay her mother for taking the truck. Over the summer Dulcie becomes friends with Roxanne and discovers that her own home life is not as bad as she thought. Though she stays in Connecticut, Dulcie ultimately reconciles with her mom and they both help Roxanne start a future away from her abusive mother. Dulcie is a scrappy heroine, with an endearing sense of humor and an exuberant spirit.
School Library Journal
Gr 7-10-Strong and quirky characters who see life as an inextricable mix of sadness and humor, sorrow and hope, are the hallmark of this memorable first novel. When 16-year-old Dulcie's beloved dad dies, she and her mom leave her granddad in Connecticut and drive to California to start over. This doesn't work for the still-grieving Dulcie so she takes their truck and drives home to pick up the pieces of her old life and remember her father in all the old places. Her road trip and memories of it, along with events that occur once she arrives home, provide the figurative journey that begins her healing. Rather than being a sad or solemn read, however, the treatment is unexpectedly offbeat and, at times, wonderfully funny. By including details of Dulcie's interesting stops along the way, including her experiences with a field of fainting goats, Acampora demonstrates a Joan Bauer-like knack for making ordinary life worth a second look. Teens will appreciate both the warm security that surrounds Dulcie and the hard truth that life can be painful.-Faith Brautigam, Gail Borden Public Library, Elgin, IL Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Dulcie's dad and grandfather were the school janitors in her Connecticut town, until her dad died in a chemical accident. Suddenly her mom decides to move and takes Dulcie to California. Wanting desperately not to leave what she knows, Dulcie takes her father's truck that her mother was about to sell and drives back to her grandfather's, sending her mom postcards from odd destinations across the country. When she returns as her grandfather's unpaid assistant for the summer, she meets his new junior assistant, Roxanne, who loves cleaning and hates being at home for a reason that will reveal itself in order to make everything else work out. And that it does, though with a not-too-convincing ease. None of the characters quite resolve themselves into full-fledged people and there is a little too much storyline, but often the dialogue is very funny. As a newcomer, Acampora is one to watch. The girls are spunky but oddly genderless, and Grandpa Frank is too wise and too patient to be believed, but teens who want to think of themselves as capable of self-sufficiency will connect to Dulcie and her independent attitude. (Fiction. YA)

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Sold by:
Penguin Group
File size:
403 KB
Age Range:
12 Years

Meet the Author

Paul Acampora lives in Quakertown, Pennsylvania.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

Defining Dulcie 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book Defining Dulcie by Paul Acampora, is a story in the point of view of a 16-year-old girl name Dulcie Morrigan Jones. I enjoyed reading this book because it was very fun, exciting, and you never really knew what would happen next. Not only was this book spirited and happy, it has it's hard times and sad moments. I am recommending this book to students currently in high school because I believe that several can relate to Dulcie. Dulcie has been working at her high school along with her father as a custodian; until one day her father mixes two chemicals together and it all goes wrong. When Dulcie faces her father's unexpected death, (like any other teenager), she deals with it silently and wound up inside her. Her mother's solution is to wash away all the sorrows in a small-town in Connecticut, and to move on to bigger and better things in California. Yet, of course Dulcie doesn't like the idea and wants to stay with everyone she knows and loves in her hometown. When Dulcie and her mother arrive in California, she defiantly steels her dad's old pick-up truck and drives across the United States back to her home town. Along the way she stops along various stops to send her mother post cards. I love the way the author describes the scenery that Dulcie is experiencing before her very eyes. This book always interested me by the level of descriptive words used; it painted a mental image in my head every time Dulcie stopped somewhere. When she finally reached sweet home Connecticut, she finds this girl named Roxanne who replaced her position as working as a custodian. Roxanne is really described as unique and spunky. The friendship between Dulcie and Roxanne is strong after Dulcie is exposed to Roxanne's mother. This book has a wonderful basis and is good for anyone who wants to read about different experiences that you can face in High School.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Book Review on Defining Dulcie by Paul Acampora By: Emily Cashour 9/10/09 Yellows Over the summer, I read Defining Dulcie. I really enjoyed the book because it was fun, quirky, and kept me interested. The book was not long at all, but what it lacked in size, it made up for in quirky humor. However, the book was not just a fun, happy story. There were some social issues, which really sparked my interest. I recommend this book to anyone who wants a story that will keep you laughing. Dulcie is a small-town girl, happy with her life and working at her high school alongside her father. But everything changes when her father mixes two chemicals together and the result is fatal. Dulcie and her mother move to California, but Dulcie is desperate for the life she once had. Dulcie drives her father's old pickup truck back home, and meets an interesting character named Roxanne. After seeing Roxanne's terrible situation at home, Dulcie realizes that her problems are not as bad as she originally thought. I think that this book was a great read. It kept me interested, and the characters were very relatable. I think that it was easy to sympathize for Roxanne and to hope that her problems at home would be resolved. Dulcie was very relatable as well, and I couldn't help but laugh at her sense of humor. She and Roxanne had similar attitudes, and it was always funny when the two of them were together. I think that Defining Dulcie was a great read, and I am satisfied with my choice for summer reading. I feel that the characters in this book were very funny because their senses of humor make me laugh. When Dulcie and Roxanne ask her grandfather if Dulcie can stay, Roxanne jokingly scolds Dulcie about how she could have hit a moose, after Dulcie grandfather finishes scolding Dulcie about what could have happened. "'I didn't hit a moose.' I said. 'Were you even looking?" Roxanne asked. I bit my lip to keep from smiling. 'No," I admitted. 'Well then you're lucky.'" Dulcie and I both care about animals, so when Dulcie goes to see the fainting goats, I can relate to what she thinks about the goats. "I watched the little animals milling about together. Bleating, butting heads, doing things goats do, they looked like a bunch of grade-schoolers on a field trip. 'They are cute,' I agreed." Roxanne is easy to sympathize for because of her terrible home situation. When Dulcie goes inside Roxanne's home, she witnesses a big fight between Roxanne and her mother. "'Stop it!' her mother shouted again. 'No!' Mrs. Soule's hand shot out and socked her daughter hard." I really liked the author's writing style because the comedy of the book made it more fun to read. The plot was very good, and the terrible social issue, I think was resolved in a way that was the best for everyone. I think that the message of this story is a good one, because it recognizes the funny oddities of life and at the same time can be serious about its social issue. I recommend this book to an audience that likes to laugh, but can also understand the issues in this book. I give this book five stars, and hope that others enjoy it as much as I did.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was very good and i enjoyed it alot i never read an this was a book i just couldnt put done :'
Guest More than 1 year ago
Taylor September 6, 2008 Ninth Grader Defining Dulcie Book Review Paul Acampora¿s book Defining Dulcie is a great story that was very well written with a wonderful message. When I started this book I got immediately into it and couldn¿t put it down. In my opinion the author¿s writing style didn¿t seem serious enough in some parts, but in other parts I thought he did a great job getting the message across. Defining Dulcie is about a girl named Dulcie who had just lost her father. After the death of Dulcie¿s father, her mother decides to move to California against Dulcie¿s wishes to stay in Connecticut. When they arrive in California Dulcie decides to steal her father¿s truck and drive back to Connecticut to live with her grandfather. When she arrives back home in Connecticut, she meets a girl named Roxanne and they instantly become friends. Roxanne¿s kind nature and great personality helps Dulcie get over her father¿s death and try be her old self again. Even though child abuse wasn¿t the main topic of the book, I thought that it would be an important topic to talk about considering Roxanne¿s mother abused her. Parents who abuse their children or animals usually have a mental problem which results to abusing someone physically or mentally. Sometimes parents abuse their children because of their lack of parental knowledge or because they were abused as kids. Other parents abuse their children because of alcohol addiction or drug usage. We can prevent child abuse by turning people in we know who is abusing someone. If we don¿t know anyone who is abusing someone or being abused we can always help them by praying for them I thought this book was good because of the message. I thought the author was trying to give through the story. Everyone handles death in a different way and everyone needs help to heal the sadness that people feel when they lose someone. In my opinion I thought that both the Dulcie¿s mother and she were just like each other because they both ran away from their problems. Dulcie¿s mother ran away to California after her husband¿s death and Dulcie ran back to Connecticut. I believe everything in life happens for a reason, even if they are sad and we can¿t explain why they happened. Everything in this book led to another challenge that Dulcie had to face and get through. If some things didn¿t happen then Dulcie would¿ve never met Roxanne and they wouldn¿t have been able to help each other out. I would recommend this book for children fourteen years or older because the meaning of the book should be taken seriously and needs to be understood. Younger children wouldn¿t understand what the book was about and they would probably be a little bored in some parts. This book is great for teenagers that have lost someone they were close to or any teenager who loves reading. After reading this book I would give it a definite four stars.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Defining Dulcie by Paul Acampora This was a really good book. It was one of the best books I read over the summer. Defining Dulcie is about a 17 year old girl named Dulcie from Connecticut whose father dies and who¿s mother decides to move them all the way across the country to California. Dulcie decides to steal her father¿s car and drive cross country back home. When she gets there she meets a new friend with a big problem. Through her experiences over that summer, Dulcie realizes sometimes you have to get out on your own to really define yourself. This book really makes you think. It makes you realize that your own problems might not be as bad as you thought and that you do not have to be confined to anything. Dulcie says, ¿I thought again about all the lines, real and imaginary, that surrounded me. I was not sure if they were strands in a giant web or huge broad strokes in a picture so close to my face that I could not see it clearly.¿ Acampora¿s writing style really makes you feel like you are there with the characters and like you know them. It made the book feel more real and closer to you. He¿s a great author. The plot of the book was very well thought out. It was not predictable and had some surprises along the way. The characters all seem very real and are all unique and interesting. The message of the story was great. This was an inspiring book that I think everyone should read. It appeals to all ages but specifically teens. I would rate four out of five stars. It is definitely a ¿Must Read¿ book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Defing Dulcey was a great book with many unexpected twists and turns.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed reading this. Its an awesome book.