Buddy died, and Beverly buried him, and then she set off toward Lake Clara."
"I'm glad you're here,' said Iola. But I worry about you. You're too young to be away from home - I know you are. Surely someone is looking for you. But you give me comfort, and I can't help it - I'm glad you're here."
Why did I love this book?
The kindness of strangers is a strong theme in this book and in the previous story Louisiana's Way Home. I love the simple acceptance by Iola that Beverly has come to stay, perhaps for a short time, and that for now Beverly needs kindness, friendship, food and a place to stay.
The comfort of food. Beverly does not like tuna but Iola makes her a sandwich "it tasted like fish, but it also tasted good. Iola had toasted the bread and melted cheese on top of the tuna, and the sandwich was warm in Beverly's hands." I get a great sense of comfort from that word 'warm.' "There was something about sitting at the tiny table in the tiny kitchen in the tiny trailer and having Iola slide a plate of food in front of her that made Beverly feel like a little kid might feel - happy, taken care of."
The raw emotions. Beverly desperately misses her dog Buddy, She misses her friends especially Raymie. Beverly takes a photo from the owner of the fish shop, where she is working.
"She took the picture of happy Mr. Denby out of her pocket.
Happy Mr. Denby and his happy wife and happy kids ...
Photographs like this were a lie.
They promised something impossible.
People were terrible to other people. That was the truth. She wanted Buddy.
She wished he were sitting next to her..."
The power of words. Someone takes her flip flops when she leaves them on the beach after her first day working in the fish restaurant. I just gasped at the awfulness of this. Beverly has to walk back to the trailer park barefoot. With the word 'fire' Kate DiCamillo tells you just how totally painful this walk is:
"She walked through the sand and up to the hot pavement and down the side of the A1A in her bare feet. She turned off A1A and walked down the sea-shell drive of the Seahorse Court. Her feet felt like they were on fire."
Meeting new people and making friends. I love the relationships which unfold in this story. Iola reaches out to Beverly. Iola doesn't ask questions about Beverly's past. She is happy to accept Beverly right here and now! Beverly reaches out to the little girl Vera who wants to ride the mechanical horse outside the store. She befriends Robbie the little boy at the beach and patiently builds sandcastles with him. Beverly is so good at reading people. She knows Elmer is a decent and kind person. She knows Jerome is bad news. She doesn't criticise Frankie even though it is clear her dreams of fame and fortune are probably never going to happen. She even has some understanding of Mr Denby and his deep sadness missing his daughters.
The discovery of things I did not know. Beverly buys wax lips in the store and meets the boy with the unfortunate name of Elmer. I didn't really know what wax lips were but I was able to make a guess
The structure of the story. The words in the phone box about the crooked little house by a crooked little sea are a gently recurring theme and they are so perfect:
In a crooked little house by a crooked little sea.
Beverly shows the graffiti to Elmer. "It was strange, almost painful, to hear someone else say the words. It was as if Elmer were reading something that had been written inside of her, carved into her."
The importance of community. I loved the scene where Beverly buys $40 worth of raffle tickets so Iola can win the turkey - such kindness but with out schmaltz then of course they have to cook that turkey and invite everyone to share a delicious Christmas meal even though it is the middle of the year and so we return to the comfort of food.
Here are a few more thoughts. I don't know how she does it but when I read a Kate DiCamillo book I really hear the voices of the characters - with an American accent - think about this because I am reading this book here in Australia.
I just re-read the review of Raymie Nightingale by Betsy Bird for the School Library Journal. I have said this before but Betsy is so eloquent. She says everything I think but don't manage to say.
How lucky am I? My local store Beachside Bookshop very generously gave me an Advanced Reader Copy of Beverly, Right Here the third and final in the series that began with Raymie Nightingale and continued with Louisiana's way Home. Beverly Right here will be available at the end of September.
There will be a three book box set available in December this year just in time for Christmas. If you have a keen reader in your home I highly recommend you add this set to their Christmas stocking. I have added it to my wishlist.
"And I think all three books are about the power of community - the grace of someone opening a door and welcoming you in, and maybe most of all, having the courage to walk through that door once it is open." Kate DiCamillo (letter to the reader in Beverly, Right Here.)
This is a story about the possibility that life can make you laugh and life can give you friendship. This is a story about tiny bits of trust. This is a story about a feeling down in your stomach that's a whole lot like the flutter of the wings of a bird that just might begin to stir and maybe even, glory be, rise inside you. A Book and a Hug