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Review of Louisiana’s Way Home

Louisiana’s Way Home
by Kate DiCamillo
Intermediate    Candlewick    230 pp.    g
10/18    978-0-7636-9463-0    $16.99

Readers first met Louisiana Elefante in Raymie Nightingale (rev. 3/16) as the orphaned daughter of famous trapeze artists and as one of the Three Rancheros, a steadfast trio of young friends who vowed to always have one another’s backs. In this companion novel, Louisiana’s flighty, unstable grandmother awakens her one night (because “the day of reckoning has arrived”), insisting that they must leave town immediately. Louisiana and Granny travel through Florida and stop in Richford, Georgia, at the Good Night, Sleep Tight motel. There Granny abandons Louisiana, leaving behind a florid letter revealing the shattering information that Louisiana is not her kin at all, but a foundling whom she rescued and raised. Now Louisiana is truly alone, not really knowing who she is, but knowing she isn’t who she thought she was. DiCamillo builds a resilient and sympathetic character in Louisiana, and the juxtaposition of her down-to-earth observations with Granny’s capriciousness lightens the narrative and allows for a good deal of humor. DiCamillo graces the plot with a brief moment of magical realism, a device that may allow both readers and Louisiana to eventually forgive Granny. The overarching themes addressing forgiveness, love, friendship, acceptance, home, and family (“Perhaps what matters when all is said and done is not who puts us down but who picks us up”) ring honest and true.

From the September/October 2018 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

About Betty Carter

Betty Carter, an independent consultant, is professor emerita of children’s and young adult literature at Texas Woman’s University.

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