The Penderwicks in Spring (audio): 08/30/19
The Penderwicks in Spring by Jeanne Birdsall, though the fourth in the series, was the first one I read. It was for the 2015 Cybils and coming late to a series and being pressed for time, my introduction to the Penderwicks wasn't the best.
This fourth book takes place years after The Penderwicks at Point Mouette. Where Batty had been the youngest, now that honor falls on Lydia. Ben is now a step-brother and of course half-brother to Lydia just as she is a half sister to all the older girls. That the family is a blended family — and one where the blending happened organically over the course of the series was lost on me the first time.
Then there is Hound. This time around I've read (listened) to Hound and Batty's adventures. So to have him recently deceased (six months before the novel beings) was now heartbreaking as it should be. Now I can recognize Batty's grief evolving into depression. This time around I see Penderwicks in Spring as Batty's journey through grief into depression and her family's slow realization that she's not going to be her old self without their help.
As with the previous books in the series, this one sits on the road narrative spectrum. Though the main plot is about Batty trying to move on after Hound's death, it is a family journey (33). There is also Nick's family across the street who are going through a similar journey. The Penderwicks are trying to get their house to feel like a home (66) again after Hound's death. The Geiger family is waiting for Nick to return home. Finally there is the route. Much of Batty's healing is done through walks through the forest that abuts their street. It's done on her own and later as a dog walker. All these journeys of self reflection are offroad (66). Nick's return is also offroad, via an airplane. Put all together, this novel is about families coming together at home via offroad routes.