I christened my new reading glasses with A Year Down Yonder on the plane back from CA. I didn't realize it was kind of a sequel to A Long Way From Chicago, which I haven't yet read, but it's creeping higher on my list. I think it's ok to read these out of order, because they're both sets of short stories, and though each builds on the last, they're probably both good stand-alones.
Mary Alice Dowdel goes to live with her kooky grandma in some hic town outside Chicago at the beginning of WWII. She starts out dreading it, because her grandma is so weird and seemingly cold, but through the stories, we learn that Grandma Dowdel is actually pretty cool. She does things her way, so that she can take care of the people she loves and not look like a softie. Mary Alice learns this, too, and starts participating in the schemes.
It was fun. Grandma does some crazy things and Mary Alice is a good narrator. At the same time it was sweet, and I wanted more. I read the whole book on the plane, so either it was good or I was really bored. (Though usually when I'm bored, I just go to sleep.)
I'm noticing that I'm enjoying books a lot more recently, since I put more thought into why I read. Could it be that I'm liking books for what they are, rather than my experience reading them? Hmm. Or maybe I'm just in a happier place lately.