Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Review: Louisiana's Way Home by Kate DiCamillo

Available October 2, 2018

When Louisiana Elefante’s granny wakes her up in the middle of the night to tell her that the day of reckoning has arrived and they have to leave home immediately, Louisiana isn’t overly worried. After all, Granny has many middle-of-the-night ideas. But this time, things are different. This time, Granny intends for them never to return. Separated from her best friends, Raymie and Beverly, Louisiana struggles to oppose the winds of fate (and Granny) and find a way home. But as Louisiana’s life becomes entwined with the lives of the people of a small Georgia town — including a surly motel owner, a walrus-like minister, and a mysterious boy with a crow on his shoulder — she starts to worry that she is destined only for good-byes. (Which could be due to the curse on Louisiana's and Granny’s heads. But that is a story for another time.) 
Well, I made it all the way to page 197 before I was bawling.

I probably don't have to tell you that DiCamillo is a master at getting you inside a character's head almost immediately, and Louisiana is certainly no exception. I wanted to simultaneously grab her up and hug her tight, yet back off and let her discover the things she needed to discover on her own. I would happily attend any church pastored by Reverend Obertask, I want one of Betty Allen's cakes, and of course I want a crow who will come when I whistle and sit on my shoulder.

One of the things I love about DiCamillo's stories is that, while adults are there to help and guide, and all characters offer occasional words of wisdom, they do not flat out rescue. The main character is allowed to grow and fall and feel and figure things out all on his or her own. Because the reader is so immediately entrenched in the character's thoughts and feelings, that growth is shared. While her endings may not find all loose ends perfectly wrapped up, they do include plenty of hope and promise.

While this is a companion to Raymie Nightingale, it is not necessary to have read that book first - which is good, because I have not (hangs head in shame). The logical question now, however, is: When does Beverly's book come out?

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