Mary Alice from A Year Down Yonder is the other main character (and the protagonist) of the story. She is 15 when she comes to live with her grandmother in a small town outside of Chicago. The Depression has hit everyone hard and unable to care for her any longer her own family ships her off to live with her grandmother. Mary Alice has spent summers at her grandmother's but never without her older brother Joey. Without him there to run interference, she's shy and afraid of her grandmother. As she gets to know her grandmother she comes to understand that they are more alike than she had thought. She begins to write a short column for the newspaper and we learn later that she goes on to become a journalist.