Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Louisiana's Way Home

Louisiana's Way Home. Kate DiCamillo. 2018. Candlewick Press. 240 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: I am going to write it all down, so that what happened to me will be known, so that if someone were to stand at their window at night and look up at the stars and think, My goodness, whatever happened to Louisiana Elefante? Where did she go? they will have an answer. They will know. This is what happened. I will begin at the beginning.

Premise/plot: The character of Louisiana Elefante was first introduced in a lovely little book called Raymie Nightingale. She was a sidekick to the main character. This book is set several years later and it is narrated by Louisiana herself.

Granny has decided that the time has come--the day of reckoning. She has decided that it is time to be moving on. Louisiana learns this the hard way--at 3AM--when she's packed up and put in the car. Soon Louisiana finds herself leaving Florida--not to mention her friends, her pets--behind and entering Georgia. Soon Louisiana finds herself behind the wheel--without a license--when Granny's toothache becomes too unbearable. Her first mission is to find a dentist. This is quickly followed up by finding a place to stay. And then there is her most familiar mission of all--a daily one--finding food to eat. Nothing comes easy for Louisiana--not anymore. (Not that life with Granny in Florida was super-easy, mind you.) But Louisiana finds friends in unlikely places...and her new friends may just be her saving grace.

My thoughts: I loved, loved, LOVED, loved this one. DiCamillo has written a gem of a book. I'm not sure what I loved most: the characterization, the narration, the quotability factor, or the compelling, oh-so-satisfying plot.

This is what happened. We stood on the side of the road. In Georgia. Just past the Florida-Georgia state line. Which is not at all--in any way--a line. Yet people insist that it exists. Think about that. (8)
If you have to choose between smiling and not smiling, choose smiling. It fools people for a short time. It gives you an advantage. (11)
I considered running down the highway, back to Florida. But I did not think I would be able to run fast enough. I have never been able to run fast enough. And by that I mean that no matter where I go, Granny seems to find me. Is that fate? Destiny? The power of Granny? (12)
You have to make small plans. That is one of the things I have discovered in this world. It is pointless to make big plans because you never know when someone is going to wake you up in the middle of the night and says, "The day of reckoning has arrived." Days of reckoning interfere with big plans. So I made small plans. The small plans were: Keep the car on the road. Find a dentist. Never forgive Granny. Although, when I think about it, never forgiving Granny would probably go in the "big plan" category. (34)
She had on her fur coat. Her hair was standing up straight on her head. Suddenly, I saw her like other people might see her and I will not lie to you: it scared me. How can I say this? She did not look trustworthy. She looked like somebody with a curse upon her head. Which, of course, was exactly the case. (46)
Your heart has to be involved with the music, or else there is no point. That is what Granny has always told me, and I believe it to be true. (73)
I sang as if the Blue Fairy from Pinocchio was smiling at me. I sang as if Beverly and Raymie and Archie and Buddy could hear me and would use the song to find their way to me. I sang as if I knew the name of the boy on the roof. I sang as if he knew my name, too. (77)
Whoever Reverend Frank Obertask was, he certainly believed in the power of the written word. And that was fine by me, because I believe in the power of the written word, too. (83)
Granny had always spoken poorly of bologna, but these bologna sandwiches tasted so good that it was just one more reason for me to doubt Granny and the truth of her utterances. And by that I mean this: If you are the kind of person who lies about something as small as bologna, what would stop you from lying about bigger, more important things? (102)
I didn't know if Granny would eat a bologna sandwich. In fact, a bologna sandwich might enrage her. Maybe I was hoping to enrage her. I don't know. But in any case, Burke went into the kitchen and came back out a minute later with two bologna sandwiches wrapped up in a paper towel. I was starting to see what kind of person he was. He was the kind of person who, if you asked him for one of something, gave you two instead. (108)
The next thing I remember is being carried. I smelled something sweet. I said, "What is that smell?" A man's voice answered me. He said, "That's cake, darling." I liked that answer very much. I think that "cake" is a very good word in general and that people should use it as an answer to questions more often. (134)
I ate the whole bowl of ice cream without once letting go of Grandfather Burke's hand. "That's the way to do it," he said. "That's just right." The peanuts on top of the sundae were particularly good. The house smelled like pineapple upside-down cake. Well, the whole world was upside down. But it was still spinning. Wasn't it? (180)
 "I want you to know something, Louisiana. We all, at some point, have to decide who we want to be in this world. It is a decision we make for ourselves. You are being forced to make this decision at an early age, but that does no mean that you cannot do it well and wisely. I believe you can. I have great faith in you. You decide. You decide who you are, Louisiana. Do you understand? (199)
It seems like a good thing to know the star that can keep you from being lost in this world. (216)

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


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