Tuesday, September 17, 2019

MG Realistic Fiction review of Beverly, Right Here by Kate DiCamillo

43584741Beverly, Right Here by Kate DiCamillo
Format:  Paperback ARC
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Number of Pages: 256
Publishing  September 24th, 2019
Source:  Publisher in exchange for an honest review

Opening Line:  "Buddy died, and Beverly buried him, and then she set off toward Lake Clara."

In 1979 at the age of fourteen, Beverly Tapinski hitches a ride with her cousin Joe Travis out of town after her dog Buddy dies.  Beverly isn't simply running away, this was "leaving,"  an important distinction that she makes at the beginning of the story.  She's run away before, but now she's truly left.  Once she reaches Tamary Beach, Beverly gets her first job bussing tables at Mr. C's fish restaurant and meets Iola Jenkins, a kindly old lady living in the nearby trailer park.   Iola makes a deal with Beverly, in exchange for driving her around in her Pontiac, she'll give her a place to stay.  In order to distance herself from the pain over the loss of her dog, and an alcoholic mother who doesn't seem to care about her, she agrees to help Iola out.   Beverly puts on this tough exterior as if she doesn't care about or need anyone's help, she seems indifferent at first to any help that is offered to her.  What she needs is to immerse herself in her work bussing tables.  Then she witnesses Elmer from Zoom city convenience store being bullied by Jerome and something inside of Beverly stirs, opening her to the new possibility of companionship, comfort and a place where she belongs.  

Beverly, Right Here is the third book in Kate DiCamillo's trio of books that began with  Raymie Nightingale and was followed by Louisiana's Way Home.   I haven't yet read Raymie Nightingale, but after reading Louisiana's Way Home, I knew I wanted to read Beverly's story.  I also plan to go back and read Raymie Nightingale because I really do wish I knew more about Buddy and Raymie.  Beverly feels his loss from the very moment that she buried him near her house with Raymie, but I feel like I missed so much by not having read these books in order, so I'm going to fix that mistake real soon.   

 In her introductory letter to the reader, DiCamillo says that Raymie Nightingale was "about the saving grace of friendship, Louisiana's Way Home was about deciding who you are, and Beverly, Right Here was about acting on the knowledge of who you are.  Together all three books are about the power of community."  For me, that's my take away from her latest book, community.  DiCamillo really has this knack of drawing you in through the characters that she creates and their interactions, they're all so easily relatable and their stories stick with you, draw on your emotions.  There's the simple charm of a young girl who is grieving, so sad over her dog's death, and lonely over her mother's abandonment due to her alcoholism.  And then to have her meet Iola and Elmer and we get to see Beverly's tough exterior begin to weaken.  She moves from these simple short one-word answers that she gives to Freddie (the waitress at the fish restaurant) to the longer more in-depth conversations that she has with Elmer and Iola.  It's the kind of story that I can see myself reading over and over again if only to experience the love and kindness that Iola gives to Beverly again.  

Finally, I love how the events, objects, and people that Beverly encounters at the beginning of the story develop into these lovely scenes later on.  Especially the significance of the passage that Beverly reads in the phone booth and how she ends up sharing it with Elmer.    And although the ending didn't feel complete, it does feel hopeful.  Beverly's future isn't set in stone,  it's what she will make of it.  How she chooses to live it and who she wants to include in her life.  Her future may be uncertain, but she seems to be off to a good start.

Favorite quote from the ARC:

 “Imagine if you hadn’t found my trailer. Imagine if I didn’t need someone to drive the Pontiac. Then me and you wouldn’t’ve become friends, and you wouldn’t know how to dance. Oh, I’m glad I needed you. I’m glad you needed me.”

 “I didn’t really need you,” said Beverly.

 “Yes, you did, honey,” said Iola. 

“Yes, you did,” said Elmer from the back seat. 

“Okay,” said Beverly. “Whatever you people say.”

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