Sunday, July 22, 2018

Middle Grade Monday and Arc Review: Louisiana's Way Home by Kate DiCamillo

Louisiana's Way Home by Kate DiCamillo. 240 p. Candlewick Press, October 2, 2018. 9780763694630. (Review from arc courtesy of the publisher.)

Louisiana Elefante is not a happy little girl. Life with Granny has not been easy; but she is grateful that she has her considering her trapeze artist parents are not in the picture. She finally made a couple of best friends in Raymie and Beverly (from Raymie Nightingale) and now Granny has dragged her out of bed in the middle of the night muttering about a reckoning. They are leaving Florida forever, never to return and Louisiana is devastated. Soon it is evident that Granny is suffering or ill and Louisiana has to drive the car to find a dentist. They are broke; so paying for services is going to be a bit difficult. Louisiana and her Granny are resourceful though. Louisiana is determined to find her way home. Only it may not be what she expects. 

Louisiana's voice captivates from page one. There is hilarity but there is also plenty of heartbreak - more than enough for one little girl to carry so resiliently. Resilience seems to be a theme in middle grade literature this year. 

Kate DiCamillo is a fearless writer. Each of her books is different. I will be honest. Raymie Nightingale was not a favorite of mine. I enjoyed it but wondered what kind of reader among my students would tackle this quiet story set in the 1970s. Still, I was eager to read this companion. It is not necessary to have read Raymie Nightingale. Louisiana's Way Home utterly floored me. The writing is spare and lovely. Little moments are so beautifully nuanced you might stop to savor or go back and reread. I marked this as a rare reread. I will most likely reread it with my ears. I cannot wait.

Louisiana's Way Home is a must-purchase title for any library. Your DiCamillo fans will thank you as will your gentle readers who love sad books. Will it be DiCamillo's Newbery hat trick? Not sure. The competition seems fierce this year. Each MG book I read seems better than the last. It's not one you want to miss.

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