Publication Date: March 3, 2013
Delilah has a talent for making dust disappear. She runs up walls with her special dusting tools making houses sparkle. She is highly regarded among London’s elite and by her employer, Mrs. Fenchurch-Whittington. Delilah is deeply in love with Charlie, the Fenchurch-Wittington’s son and when he brings home a bride, Delilah’s heart breaks. The heartbreak leads to problems for Delilah that she never would have anticipated.
The author, A.J. York, provided me with a copy of the book in exchange for a review.
Delilah Dusticle was a sweet story. Geared toward children ages 9-12, the story is whimsical and humorous but does take a turn toward sadness. Delilah is resigned, she’s frustrated and she hides from her problems and her employer. The time period is implied but not stated. At one point, Abi refers to women working in factories and television becoming popular in British homes, so that the implication is that it is set Post-War.
The plotting and style of the novel are a bit at odds. The writing is in the simplistic style of a Baby-Sitters Club book, but the theme leans more toward older child issues. Delilah is in love; she’s rejected and she goes into a deep (figurative) depression where nothing will ever seem bright again. Delilah is a bit of a charmed character at the start in the style of a fairy from a picture book complete with “this happened and then this happened”. The suit of armor giggles as it’s dusted. York’s imagery is wonderful and fun and then the world turns black for Delilah, and a situation a child wouldn’t understand starts. My 11-year-old wondered why Delilah didn’t go to live with her brother. More background in the setting, time and overall character would have answered those questions and made this novel an excellent young adult book with a market that could lean toward older children who are perhaps feeling the sting of heartbreak as well, and who could come to realize that self-acceptance and the support of good people make all of the difference in a life.
Eleven-year-old Alex was fully on board for the first part of the novel but when Delilah withdrew and even when she started to rebuild her life, she was no longer invested. She didn’t get being upset over a boy, why Delilah wouldn’t turn to her family and why she wouldn’t tell Abi who she was right from the start. Despite several conversations on the topic, she didn’t fully buy into Delilah’s worry. I did as a person who has read more about history and knows more about class structure but to a child it was all about a “stupid boy.”
I would recommend this novel for older children who like the novels that deal with teen drama. If you have a nine-year-old who already has a crush, she may be able to identify with Delilah. I found it a cute novel with little problems but overall a very worthwhile read.
Delilah Dusticle is the first novel in a planned series. The next book has Delilah traveling to Transylvania and I will be 100% on board to read that novel.