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Literature / Livvie Owen Lived Here

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Livvie Owen Lived Here is a 2010 middle grade novel by Sarah Dooley.

Livvie, a fourteen-year-old autistic girl who lives with her working-class family in the small town of Nabor, is shocked one evening to hear the paper mill whistle, which she hasn't heard since the mill shut down ten years ago. Even stranger, no one else can hear it besides her older sister Natasha. Livvie sets out to solve the mystery of who's blowing the whistle.

Livvie Owen Lived Here contains examples of:

  • Agony of the Feet: When Livvie first hears the whistle, it startles her so much that she drops her favorite mug, which shatters. Livvie steps on one of the shards and cuts her foot. For the rest of the book, she has trouble walking on her sore foot.
  • Calling Parents by Their Name: Livvie would prefer to call everyone by their name, including herself. She can remember to use pronouns most of the time when she's not upset, but calling her parents anything other than Karen and Simon is too confusing for her.
  • A Dog Named "Dog": Livvie's cat is named Gray Cat. She used to have another one named Orange Cat.
  • Dying Town: When the paper mill shut down a decade ago, most of the other businesses in Nabor did as well. Simon used to work at the mill, but after he lost his job, the family couldn't afford to stay in their first home, the Sun House.
  • House Fire: It's revealed that Livvie and Natasha set a fire in the Sun House when they were little girls. Their parents couldn't afford to repair the damage, and the Owens were forced to sell the house.
  • Lost Pet Grievance:
    • Orange Cat escaped two months ago and got hit by a car. Livvie is heartbroken at the loss of her best friend. She put all her photos of him in a box that she made Karen hide, except one photo that she keeps facedown on her desk at school because looking at him is too painful.
    • Livvie's sister Lanie cries when her beloved mouse Bentley dies. Livvie helps her bury him.
  • Meaningful Appearance: Livvie's special ed classmate Bristol wears warm colors when she's in a good mood, and cool colors when she's in a bad mood. Livvie has learned to stay out of her way when she wears cool colors.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Livvie's friend Georgia goes by G, both because it's easier to pronounce and because G is her favorite letter.
  • Really Moves Around: Since the Owens lost the Sun House ten years ago, they've moved about twenty times, always getting evicted for reasons that usually involve Livvie. They've lived at least once on practically every street in Nabor.
  • Self-Harm: Livvie yanks on her hair to calm herself. When she was younger, she used to pull out such big chunks that her scalp bled, so for years her parents kept it cut short. Now she's learned to pull on her hair more gently, so she's allowed to have long hair again.
  • Sensory Overload: Livvie and her classmates in special ed are all highly prone to this. Once Livvie is startled by the whistle into dropping her fork, and the noise upsets some of her classmates and causes them to make noises that upset the others, until everyone is freaking out.
  • Talking to Themself: Livvie often gives herself orders, sometimes using direct quotes from her parents.
    Another thing about being Livvie Owen. She rarely ever listened when I spoke to her. Usually when she did, it was already too late.
  • Title Drop: Livvie has written "Livvie Owen lived here," the only sentence she knows how to write, somewhere in every house, apartment, or trailer she has ever lived in.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Livvie carries Orange Cat's kitten collar everywhere. She usually wears it as a bracelet.