Books Set in the South, Children's, Dowell-Frances O'Roark, Family dynamics, Fiction, Mystery, Social Commentary

#544 Where I’d Like to Be by Frances O’Roark Dowell

Where I'd Like to Be by Frances O'Roark DowellWhere I’d Like to Be by Frances O’Roark Dowell

Maddie lives in a home for foster children. One day a girl comes in how calls herself Murphy. The first things she says is that it’s not her real name. Maddie knows better now than to believe all the things Murphy says, but in the beginning she didn’t know.

Maddie was saved by a ghost when she was a baby. The ghost told Granny Lane that the baby was about to suffocate and Granny Lane got up and took care of it. Granny Lane cant’ take care of Maddie anymore that’s why Maddie is in the children’s home.

Murphy immediately hangs up a lot of nice things when she moves into the home. Maddie tries to make friends with her. Through a turn of events, several children are brought together who wouldn’t have been together before. It’s all because of Maddie, but no one really gives her the credit at the time. Logan, Maddie, Murphy, Donita, and Ricky Ray all get together. They want to build a fort. They work extra hard and manage to build a great fort. They share ideas. They share hopes for the future. Logan’s parents are little more proud of him for getting out and doing something than they had been.

Things seem good until Murphy causes something to happen that makes the other children lose faith in Maddie. There is a falling-out and the real truth about Murphy comes out. It’s not a good truth, just as none of the truths about any of the children are very good. Maddie has to hope for a better future. She once again picks up her scissors and her pencil and begins imagining what her future could be.

What I liked

This was a sweet little book. This book gives a good example of how sometimes children tell lies to get past their truths. If they can just imagine that things are different, then maybe real life won’t be so bad. That’s what is happening to all these children. Each of them has their own truth, but they also have this fantasy they make up about their lives. These fantasies are about what their lives could be or what their lives could have been. It’s a coping mechanism, but sometimes other children don’t understand why these children would make these things up. I think books like this book give children insights into other children.

What I didn’t like

This book is also kind of sad. For all the wonderful stories that Murphy tells, you just know she’s hiding something. You just know that something inside of her hurts so bad that she can’t even begin to face it. That’s such a sad thing for such a young girl to face. I feel bad for her. I feel bad for all of these kids, even Logan, who has parents. They each have these troubles that seem too heavy for children. Poor kids.


It’s a short bitter-sweet story, but there’s hope.

Weigh In

Did the fantasies that you had about your life as a child ever pan out?

Were there things in your life that you did purely because it was a fantasy of yours as a child?


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