Louisiana's Way Home
by Kate DiCamillo
Expected Publication Oct 2, 2018
Advanced Reader's copy provided by publisher
From two-time Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo comes a story of discovering who you are — and deciding who you want to be.
When Louisiana Elefante’s granny wakes her up in the middle of the night to tell her that the day of reckoning has arrived and they have to leave home immediately, Louisiana isn’t overly worried. After all, Granny has many middle-of-the-night ideas. But this time, things are different. This time, Granny intends for them never to return. Separated from her best friends, Raymie and Beverly, Louisiana struggles to oppose the winds of fate (and Granny) and find a way home. But as Louisiana’s life becomes entwined with the lives of the people of a small Georgia town — including a surly motel owner, a walrus-like minister, and a mysterious boy with a crow on his shoulder — she starts to worry that she is destined only for good-byes. (Which could be due to the curse on Louisiana’s and Granny’s heads. But that is a story for another time.)
Called “one of DiCamillo’s most singular and arresting creations” by The New York Times Book Review, the heartbreakingly irresistible Louisiana Elefante was introduced to readers in Raymie Nightingale — and now, with humor and tenderness, Kate DiCamillo returns to tell her story.
First off, I LOVED Raymie Nightingale (DiCamillo 2016) and Louisiana was my favorite character in the book. I was thrilled to get to spend more time with her in this book. So my thoughts are probably a bit skewed. Louisiana is a character like no other. She has a unique way of expressing herself and her voice is very strong throughout the book. The way she views the world is very different to say the least. She is both brazen and innocent at the same time. Although the story seems a bit far-fetched, it all just seems very "Louisiana" to me. Nothing surprised me (well almost nothing). I was not surprised when Granny needed her teeth out or when 12 year-old Louisiana drove the car, or when they landed in a motel room with no money to pay. In true DiCamillo style, readers will meet and get to know new and interesting characters. There are two cranky women who are always in various stages of curling their hair, three characters named Burke, and a nurturing, cake-baking mother.
Of course Granny is an intriguing character in her own right. She is grumpy, non-nonsense, cunning and fiercely protective. I think she could have her own story explained in a book some time.
The ending is surprising and satisfying and just seems "right". Readers will love Louisiana with her swampy lungs, fainting spells, beautiful singing voice and her adorably woeful outlook.
I would recommend this book for grades 4-6.
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