Louisiana’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo (9780763694630)
Fans of Raymie Nightingale are in for a treat with this new novel that focuses on Louisiana Elefante. Louisiana is thrown into an adventure when her granny wakes her in the middle of the night and drives across the state line from Florida into Georgia. Along the way, she talks about feeling unwell and eventually is incapacitated by a toothache. Louisiana takes the wheel and drives them, with a few mishaps, to a small town to find a dentist. After granny’s teeth are all removed because of advanced decay, they find a place for her to recuperate. Louisiana longs to return to Florida and her friends, but with granny in no state to travel, she is stuck. She meets a boy with a crow for a best friend, discovers the sweetness of a pink house filled with cake, and learns that a minister may not have all the answers but can still help. Louisiana’s life has been filled with goodbyes, perhaps this small town can break that curse.
DiCamillo tells Louisiana’s story with a deft humor and a deep empathy. The book begins as a strange road trip in darkness, becomes a comedic romp of a kid driving a car, but then starts to ask big questions about honesty and family. As Louisiana learns more about her own personal history, she begins to question everything that her granny has told her over the years. Still, even the truth is hard to accept at times.
Louisiana herself is a wonderfully compelling character and one of the most interesting ones from Raymie Nightingale. Here readers get to know her better and will find her even more compelling. The book has a gentleness to it, a tenderness, that lifts it up. The supporting characters add to that, treating Louisiana with a care that her granny has been unable to provide her.
Beautifully written and filled with amazing characters, this one is a winner from a master storyteller. Appropriate for ages 8-12.
Reviewed from ARC provided by Candlewick Press.