First sentence: Buddy died, and Beverly buried him, and then she set off toward Lake Clara.
Premise/plot: The heroine of Beverly, Right Here is Beverly Tapinski who was first introduced in Kate DiCamillo's Raymie Nightingale. (Readers should also make a point of reading Louisiana's Way Home. All three books are set in the late 1970s.)
After the death of her dog, Buddy, Beverly runs away from home. She thinks of herself as an independent loner: someone who doesn't need--or want--anyone. But is that really true? Though Beverly's family has been less than ideal (an absentee dad, an alcoholic mother, countless boyfriends of her mother that have come and gone) she may just piece together a perfect-for-her family.
Iola Jenkins is an old woman who has lost her driving privileges. But she is not done living life on her own terms even if her son thinks she should be. Beverly, though not technically old enough to drive, becomes Iola's driver and "niece." Beverly is hesitant about this new relationship. Why is Iola willing to open up her home to a perfect stranger? But Iola has a lot of lessons to pass along to Beverly. Lessons about trust, friendship, attitude. ALSO how to dance.
Doris and Charles. Beverly buses tables at a local fish restaurant. Doris is the sole cook and Charles the sole dish washer. These two become a little protective of Beverly. Freddie, the sole waitress, talks big, but wouldn't hesitate to cheat Beverly from her fair share of tips.
Elmer. He works at a convenience store. His nose is always in a book. But he's aware of everyone that comes into the shop and has their interests in mind. He must protect little ones from the hand-made comics of hell fire and brimstone that one of the local ladies draws because she is so concerned about being God's Messenger. He also gives the occasional dime so that children can ride the horse in front of the store. He's hesitant--especially at first--to let Beverly into his life. But soon Iola, Beverly, and Elmer are fast friends.
My thoughts: I really LOVED this one. It's a great read, just what you'd expect from a new book by Kate DiCamillo. I loved the relationships of this one. It was just a joy to spend time with Beverly and Iola and Beverly and Elmer. I honestly don't know which character I love more--Iola or Elmer. Both were just WONDERFUL. There is something oh-so-human about this one. Not all the characters are lovely and genuine.
It's a great coming-of-age novel. It has a lot of heart and soul in it.
Quotes (from an ARC):
- “You don’t even know me,” said Beverly. “I do not,” said Iola. “I could be a criminal.” “Are you?” said Iola. Beverly shrugged. “My husband always did say that I was a fool for trusting people. He said, ‘Iola, you would trust the devil to sell you a pair of dancing shoes.’”
- “You can stay with me,” said Iola. She reached over and patted Beverly’s arm. “We will help each other out. We’ll trust each other.”
- Iola gave Beverly a nightgown to sleep in—one with pink flowers and lace at the collar. Beverly thought that she would rather die than put it on. And then she put it on. She was making all kinds of questionable decisions: working at a fish restaurant, eating tuna melts, wearing flowered nightgowns.
- “I never said I would trust you,” said Beverly. “You didn’t say you wouldn’t,” said Iola. She smiled. And that was how they left things.
- She didn’t want to ride a horse to nowhere; she wasn’t going to let herself get fooled.
- “Just because you can’t stand to think about something don’t mean it ain’t happening, that it ain’t true. People wait on other people. People rely on other people.”
- “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.”
© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews