Ellie tells how her family and life fall apart in the year 1963. Ellie is a Spectacular. She lives in the town of Spectacle where her mother, Doris Day Dingman, yearns to be the constant center of attention --- a Spectacular spectacle. Doris wins the Bosetti Beauty award, which gives her five free shopping minutes at the Bosetti Grocery Store, by stuffing the box with twenty-five forms. She then revels in the attention of the audience, and continues wearing the tiara long after the contest is over.
Ellie's family lives on Witch Tree Lane, along with the other fascinating misfits in town. Ellie has many friends on the street, some of whom function as substitute mothers during Doris's many classes in dance, acting, and singing. Doris believes in making things happen. She has changed her name to that of the movie star, Doris Day. She talks the local A&P market into letting her be the Lehman's Spam Spread girl.
Doris is gone five hours the afternoon she heads off to talk the local clothing store into a fashion show (starring herself, of course). In response to her absence, Mr. Dingman is too quiet, Ellie's brother Albert is furious, and her sister Marie cries. When Doris comes home late --- and drunk --- she and her husband argue loudly.
As Ellie and her best friend Holly start sixth grade, they're impressed with their young cute male teacher and with the new girl, Tammy White, who is not in awe of the popular girls --- the ones who delight in torturing Ellie and Holly. Doris appears in Ellie's classroom dressed in a tight red dress and very high heels, with her hair in a bouffant tower. Ellie is humiliated, but Tammy is intrigued.
As time goes on, Ellie can't sleep at night. She knows something terrible is going to happen. What will it be, and when will it come? In the meantime bad things are happening to Ellie and Holly at school, and to the residents of Witch Tree Lane. The world is shocked and saddened by President Kennedy's assassination, but self-involved Doris is angry because the Harvest Parade is called off and she won't get to be the Harvest Queen. Finally, inevitably, the something that Ellie has been dreading comes to be. It's so huge and devastating that it changes her world forever. Will she survive?
Ellie's story is heartbreaking and real. At various times while reading HERE TODAY, I felt sad, angry, and frightened. I'll remember Ellie for finding strength when life battered her, and for leaving me with an uplifting surge of hope. Highly recommended.