Review of Beverly, Right Here

 Beverly, Right Here
by Kate DiCamillo
Intermediate, Middle School    Candlewick    243 pp.    g
9/19    978-0-7636-9464-7    $16.99

In this companion volume to DiCamillo’s Raymie Nightingale (rev. 3/16) and Louisiana’s Way Home (rev. 9/18) — together the books make up a trilogy in which DiCamillo introduces three girls, each meeting individual challenges in the process of growing up — it’s Beverly Tapinski’s turn. After Buddy, the “dog of [her] heart,” dies, fourteen-year-old Beverly leaves home, catching a ride with her loser cousin to Tamaray Beach, where she finds a job busing tables and a place to stay in return for driving (yes, driving) elderly Iola Jenkins to bingo. Others enter her life; in the same manner as she shops at the local convenience store, Beverly chooses some (Elmer, the store clerk with a full scholarship to Dartmouth; the cook at the restaurant) for friends and rejects others (the self-absorbed waitress and her bully boyfriend). Unlike the often-drunk mother back home who never notices her, or the father who simply left one day, Beverly discovers that showing up — whether to help Iola win the world’s largest turkey at the local VFW’s Christmas-in-July party, or build a sandcastle with a child, or support a workers’ strike at the restaurant — can make a difference in people’s lives. The story moves languidly at first, as Beverly absorbs her surroundings, and then more quickly, as she realizes that if she “wants things to change,” she must meet those things head on. Drawn with unusual depth, the members of Beverly’s small community emerge as complex individuals but also, collectively, as a force for change and goodwill — just like the three friends who began this journey together.

From the September/October 2019 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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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