Destiny by Vicki Grove; G. P. Putnam's
Sons: New York, 2000; $16.99
D0 you believe in fate? Do you believe that our lives all have a certain destiny? Or do you believe in free will? These are the main questions that the book Destiny, by Vicki Grove, grapples with. The title, Destiny, doesn't just refer to fate, though. The main character of this novel is named Destiny Louise Capperson.
Destiny is a powerful name. In ancient Greek mythology, Zeus, the god of the sky, and Themis, goddess of justice and law, had children called the Destinies. The Destinies were three sisters "born from the just heavens" who measured and snipped the threads of life. However, that's not what Destiny Capperson does. She has chores like hauling around half-rotten potatoes for local folks to buy.
Destiny Capperson is an artistic girl born into a life of chaos. Virginia, her mother, is a high-school dropout who believes that she will win the lottery because a telephone psychic tells her that "something good, big and soon" is going to happen to the Cappersons in the form of "moola." Jack, Destiny's stepfather, is a bad-hearted and lazy bum who has resorted to harmful actions just to get money. Nathan, Ethelene, and Roberta are the younger siblings that complete Destiny's family. When Nathan was younger, maybe five or six, he got his legs crunched in a car accident—or supposedly an accident. Jack had been driving his truck, with Nathan in it, and another car rammed into it. Nathan's legs got smashed forward, and with the impact, were crushed. At least, that's the story that Jack tells (but you can't always believe Jack).
Destiny tries to help out her family by getting a part-time job reading to a retired Latin teacher whose eyes are going bad. Mrs. Peck, the teacher, tells Destiny all about ancient Greek and Roman mythology. That's where Destiny learns the true origin of her name, about goddesses who controlled the fates of people.
Mrs. Peck gives Destiny a book about the ancient myths. When Destiny brings the book home, she finds a picture of Mrs. Peck inside that she uses for her bookmark. But when Nathan sees the photograph of Mrs. Peck, he immediately screeches, "That's the bad lady! She was in the other car that crunched my legs!" That's when Destiny's world turns upside down.
I love all of the ties to Greek and Roman mythology in this book because I adore reading the ancient myths myself. Destiny learns all about the gods and goddesses from Mrs. Peck, and I learned mythology from a Latin teacher, too! In my school, all of the students have to take a mythology test every year. We study and study for it, and our Latin teacher tells us all sorts of myths. Although Destiny doesn't have to take a mythology test, Mrs. Peck does tell her the stories of the gods and goddesses. When Mrs. Peck tells Destiny that her namesakes were "born from the just heavens," Destiny begins to feel as if she was born right out of the sky, too, instead of being the child of dreamy, scheming Virginia Capperson and some man that she doesn't even know.
Vicki Grove does a wonderful job of "painting" her characters. Take Virginia Capperson, for instance. Can't you just see her in the following paragraph?
My mother sank to a chair and buried both hands in her short blond hair. You could see the purple acrylic nails she bought herself for her twenty-ninth birthday last summer shining through.
Vicki Grove also describes the people in her story through dialogue. Jack has the slang tone of an uneducated truck driver. Mrs. Peck uses perfect grammar, just as you would expect a teacher to do. Destiny talks like any normal kid, and Virginia always sounds as if life just hit her hard in the face and she still wants to ignore it. Vicki Grove makes it clear that each character has his or her own little world, and you find out more and more about each of the worlds as you read this great book.
Consider it your fate to read Destiny.