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Eight-year-old Maybeth is a quiet girl almost crippled by shyness. In Provincetown, her shyness interfered so severely with her studies that she was held back in school, and the label of being retarded always lingered around her ominously. Dicey and her family know that Maybeth is not retarded, because she displays skill in learning lyrics and music, singing, and perceiving and assessing people's real characters and motivations. Throughout their trip, Dicey struggles between protecting Maybeth and addressing her with the truth of their situation. Dicey, however, is always surprised that when she tells Maybeth a painful truth, because Maybeth understands it completely and often already knew it. At the same time, Dicey never pushes Maybeth to do anything that scares her. Maybeth resembles Momma most out of the children: she is pretty, blond, sweet-tempered, quiet, and absentminded. At the end of the novel, Gram forces Dicey to let Maybeth face a challenge on her own. Gram talks frankly to the young girl about what she must do and why, Maybeth meets the challenge successfully.
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