December 18

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Beverly, Right Here by Kate DiCamillo Review by Victoria Tomis

In award-winning author Kate DiCamillo’s companion novel to Louisiana’s Way Home and Raymie Nightingale, DiCamillo turns the spotlight to the last of the Three Rancheros: scrappy and strong-willed Beverly Tapinski. 

 

In the opening of Beverly, Right Here it’s August 1979 and the unflinchingly honest and stubborn 14-year-old hits the road, leaving her grungy Florida town behind her. Mourning the recent death of her rescue dog Buddy, coupled with her ex-beauty queen mother constantly on her case grousing about what a disappointment she is, and the abrupt departure of her former best friend Louisiana Elefante there’s nothing left to keep Beverly tethered to her unfulfilled, glass-half-empty existence. Even Raymie has become distant. 

 

Having lost a part of herself the day she buried Buddy beneath the copse of fragrant orange trees on her property, the habitual runaway makes a promise to herself. This time, she’s gone for good. Hitching a ride with her sleazeball cousin, Joe Travis Joy Beverly ends up in Tamaray Beach. 

 

It’s there, by the seaside that Beverly gets a job busing tables at Mr. C’s Fish restaurant (she hates fish) and is welcomed into the shockingly pink RV home of a youthful and eccentric bingo-loving elderly woman named Iola Jenkins. It’s there, that Beverly stops running. 

 

Painted with DiCamillo’s signature whimsy and timelessness, there’s a poetry to Beverly, Right Here’s spare prose. There’s subtle magic to DiCamillo’s wordsmithery 

that makes every page of this earnest, emotionally gripping, and tender novel a gift. 

 

With a series of indelible supporting characters rounding out the cast, including a teen gas station attendant with cystic acne and a passion for art named Elmer, a fat, lovable, gray tomcat named Nod and Mr. C, the hapless, recently divorced, owner and manager of Mr. C’s, struggling to keep his restaurant afloat and his young daughters in his life, Beverly, Right Here leaves a lasting impression. Its purposeful plot doesn’t stray, and DiCamillo’s preference for prose that isn’t choked with wordiness, excessive description, and trite, on the nose cliches, honors both the readers and the novel’s characters. DiCamillo’s innate trust in her audience to “get it” and refusal to spoonfeed details to readers continues to elevate her literature beyond the confines of “kiddie lit” to novels that are essentially all-ages fare that eschew loud and slapstick juvenile gags for warmth, and understated down-to-earth wisdom. 

 

With its overarching themes of forging a family and belongingness comingling with friendship, forgiveness, and self-betterment Beverly, Right Here is certain to claim a space in the fond thoughts and on the bookshelves of its many readers and stay, right here, for years to come. 

Victoria Tomis is a twenty-something kitty cat kissing, vegan strong, queer writer. Currently, the Head Writer for the pop culture website GeekForTheWin.com, Victoria also writes for the movie review website ThatMomentIn.com, runs her own blog at vickyheartstv.blogspot.com, and works in the circulation department in her town’s library. When she’s not writing, reading, or out with friends, you could find her geeking out over Harry Potter, catching the latest indie horror flick, or cooing over her rescue tabby, Paco. Want to know more? You can find Victoria on Twitter at @thebadgerbabe_ or via email at victoriatomiswrites@gmail.com