full title Dicey's Song
author Cynthia Voigt
type of work Young adult novel
genre Problem novel
time and place written Annapolis, Maryland, 1981–1982
date of first publication 1982
point of view The narrator speaks in the third person, but focuses on Dicey's experiences and perceptions.
tone The narrator speaks in a straightforward and objective tone
tense Simple past
setting (time) Early 1980s
setting (place) Southern Maryland
protagonist Dicey Tillerman
major conflict Dicey struggles to come to terms with her mother's mental illness and her role in her family.
rising action Dicey, who has shepherded her siblings from Massachusetts, where her mentally ill mother abandoned them, to their grandmother's house in Maryland, struggles to understand her new role as a positive and supportive emotional presence in her siblings' lives. She helps her siblings face their problems, she establishes a strong relationship with her grandmother, and even begins to reach out to people in her school when Gram rushes her off to Boston on short notice.
climax In Boston, Gram and Dicey find Momma, who is on her deathbed. Gram and Dicey sit with Momma and make their goodbyes, and she dies the morning after they arrive.
falling action Gram and Dicey bring Momma back to be buried near the house in Maryland. Gram brings the family album down to share with the children on the night they bury Momma.
themes The appeal of the unusual; the connection between reaching out and receiving; holding on by letting go and letting go by holding on
motifs Music; clothing; essays
symbols Sailboat; apron; marbles
foreshadowing The letters from the Boston mental hospital foreshadow Momma's death