Book Review: “Grounded” by Kate Klise

Warning: This review contains spoilers for “Grounded” by Kate Klise. If you haven’t read the book and you don’t want spoilers, do not read this. However, if you have already read the book or you don’t mind spoilers, feel free to read this!

Cover of "Grounded" by Kate Klise
Cover of “Grounded” by Kate Klise.

Another book review is here, and this time I’m reviewing “Grounded” by Kate Klise. Here’s a quick summary so we know what it’s about:

After her brother, sister, and father die in a plane crash, Daralynn Oakland receives 237 dolls from well-wishers, resulting in her new nickname: Dolly. And she doesn’t even like dolls! Dolly would much rather go fishing—not that she’s allowed to go anywhere on her own after the accident. As she sees it, her whole life has turned terrible, and there’s nothing she can do about it.

But when her angry, grieving mother’s new job as a hairstylist at the local funeral home is threatened by the new crematorium, Dolly decides it’s time to take action. She suggests throwing Living Funerals—a chance to attend your own funeral and hear all the nice things people say while you’re still alive to thank them. Will Dolly’s new plan put the ‘fun’ back into funeral and save a dying business?”

Character Development: 3 out of 5 stars

My first thought when reading the summary of this book was that it was going to be one of those books that are “so weird, it’s good.”

I was right.

Perhaps this “so weird it’s good” vibe is present because of the whole situation in the book being that Dolly’s mother is a hairstylist at a funeral home and that Dolly has that many dolls that makes the book weird, or it could also be because Dolly’s aunt actually dates the man running the new crematorium.

All of the characters have some sort of odd quirk to them, whether it be through their personalities in general or the actions they take. Heck, even the guy that supposedly runs the crematorium is actually a con man who dumps dead bodies in the nearest lake and gives people burnt breadcrumbs as fake ashes instead! It’s fair to say that through the strangeness of these characters, the book can potentially be a little disturbing, even if the narrator of the book (Dolly) is a twelve-year-old girl.

Speaking of Dolly, I didn’t see much of a development in her regarding her grief over her deceased brother, sister, and father. She did recall memories of all of them at various times throughout the book, and it is evident that she dearly misses them, but I don’t think that the book explored the depths of Dolly’s grief for her family enough. Dolly describes the changes that happen in her home since the deaths, like practically having the same meal day after day, her mother refusing to let her go anywhere alone, and so on.  As for Dolly herself, she seems to gravitate between sulking and fighting with her mother. I understand that there are different ways for people to grieve and that Dolly’s sulking and fighting are probably part of her own grief, but I still think that there could have been more depth to how she tries to deal with all of this.

Plot Development: 3 out of 5 stars

Plotwise, I felt that the book went back and forth at first between trying to move on in life since the deaths and recalling the deaths and the obvious impacts it has on Dolly and her mother. I was a little confused with where the plot was going in the beginning, because Dolly would be going from investigating Clement to fighting with her mother and so on. Thankfully, the plot cleared up by halfway through the book.

Overall, I have to give this book a rating of 3 out of 5 stars!

I gave the book this rating is because of the confusing plotline and lack of depth. However, if you’re looking for something on the eccentric side, “Grounded” might be a book you want to pick up.

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