Augusta Scattergood's The Way to Stay in Destiny takes place in Destiny, Florida in 1974. Theo (short for Thelonious, as in Thelonious Monk) has been uprooted from his home with his grandparents and brought to this small town with his uncle Raymond. Uncle Raymond is not a sympathetic character - he is verbally abusive to Theo and clearly still reeling from his experiences as a soldier in Vietnam. Theo is grieving the recent departure from his grandparents and the long ago deaths of his parents and the one thing that brings him comfort - music - has been prohibited by Raymond. Fortunately, their rooming house has a piano and a landlady who sees Theo for who he is - a lost soul in need of kindness, music and friendship. Slowly Theo makes another friend in Anabel, a girl who shares Theo's love (or obsession) for baseball. Together, they try to prove that Hank Aaron once lived in their small town.
This is kind of a quiet book, with Theo's melancholy slowly giving way to hope. I love two of the same things that help Theo get through a very difficult time - music and baseball - so this book really resonated with me. I will hand it to middle grade readers who crave character development more than action and who might appreciate the plight of a lonely boy.