Seventeen Against the Dealer, the final Tillerman book, is not an easy read. It's great to bring the focus back to Dicey, now in her early twenties and embarking on her big dream, a boat-building business. But Dicey, always so resourceful and self-sufficient, is still young and raw; it's painful to read about one thing after another going wrong, as she loses her precious tool collection (uninsured), agrees to take on work she can't yet manage, and trusts people who don't deserve it. Dicey's way has always been to barrel on, to work hard, tackle the problem in front of her, and then work harder; but she needs to learn that that isn't the only, or even the best way, to handle life. Perhaps the most painful lesson of all, which we see unfolding before she does, is that she almost loses faithful Jeff by taking his loyalty for granted. And in neglecting her family, she almost loses Gram, too.
This is a satisfying conclusion to Cynthia Voigt's masterful Tillerman series, though I still think Homecoming is my favourite of them all. This last book is about taking chances, and making the most of the chances you're given, and also about picking yourself up again if those gambles don't pay off. Seventeen Against the Dealer also prompted me to cook jumbalaya, which was delicious! I'm looking forward to revisiting the Tillermans again in another ten years.