Beverly, Right Here by Kate DiCamillo
I am more convinced than ever that Kate DiCamillo is magic. I have read every single one of her books, fallen in love with countless characters at this point, and continue to be in awe of her ability to craft worlds that are equal parts gloriously heart-warming and achingly gut-wrenching.
BEVERLY, RIGHT HERE is Kate DiCamillo's latest middle grade novel, and completes the THREE RANCHEROS trilogy that includes National Book Award finalist RAYMIE NIGHTINGALE (2016) and LOUISIANA'S WAY HOME (2018).
In this third novel, we get to hear Beverly Tapinski's story in her own words. Beverly's mother is a neglectful alcoholic, and she hasn't seen or heard from her father since he walked out years ago. Her dog, Buddy, has just died and she and Raymie have buried him beneath the orange trees in Beverly's backyard. There doesn't seem to be anything left for her here, and so Beverly makes the decision to leave. Not just run away - which she's done before - but actually walk away and not look back. She finds herself in the town of Tamaray Beach, not that far from her hometown, but far enough to seem a world away.
At fourteen, Beverly is used to the constant disappointment other people bring and is determined to make it on her own. She has no intention of forming any ties, but the people she encounters have other ideas. There's Iola Jenkins, the elderly woman who lives in a pink trailer with a cat named Nod. Iola insists Beverly stay with her and feeds her tuna melt sandwiches every day, and Nod takes an instant liking to her despite Beverly's insistence that she hates cats.
Then there's the staff at Mr. C's, the fish fry restaurant down by the beach where she's landed herself a job. And there's Elmer, who works at Zoom City and hands out dimes to little kids so they can ride the metal pony that sits outside the store, perpetually moving but going nowhere. As with all of DiCamillo's books, the cast of characters in BEVERLY, RIGHT HERE is richly realized, fully human in their flaws and their strengths.
At its heart, this is a story not just about a girl searching for and finding herself, but about the power of community and the need for belonging. This is one of those books that's worth returning to again and again, because each new reading will reveal more truths, both simple and profound. It's a layered, nuanced look at grief and disappointment, hope and healing. It's about the small acts of kindness that occur every day in a world that can be so cruel. And it's about discovering where you belong and finding the people who will stand by your side while you figure it out.
This review originally appeared on NetGalley. I received a free Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) in exchange for my honest review of this title.
Photos by Alisa Williams.