The friendship of strangers helps a 14-year-old runaway realize that there are important connections to be found at home as well.
It is 1979, four years after the events that bound together the Three Rancheros, Raymie, Louisiana, and Beverly, in Raymie Nightingale (2016). Buddy, the dog they rescued, has died, and Beverly Tapinski can think of no reason to stay home, so she hitches a ride to Tamaray Beach, Florida. Lying about her age, she finds a job in Mr. C’s restaurant and a place to stay in elderly Iola Jenkins’ trailer. In this third book about the girls, DiCamillo mixes familiar ingredients: absent parents, disparate friends, the ability to drive a car, the power of generosity, and the satisfaction of a big celebratory meal. Beverly is the focus here; her old friends appear only as memories or a voice on the telephone. At 14, she’s on the verge of finding herself, and she’s newly seeing herself through others’ eyes. As always, secondary characters (likely white, like Beverly) are interestingly drawn: the lonely older woman; acne-faced and college-bound Elmer, who draws her picture and teaches her to dance; ambitious Freddie the waitress and her unsuitable boyfriend. But in this immediate narrative, simply told and progressing in real time, readers encounter this world through Beverly’s eyes and mind, finding pleasure in small things, appreciating friends of all sorts, coming to terms with losses, and moving on.
A satisfying read that stands alone but is richer for its company. (Fiction. 10-14)