DiCamillo, Kate. Louisiana’s Way Home. Fiction. Candlewick, 10/2018. 227pp. $16.99. 978-0-7636-9463-0. OUTSTANDING. GRADES 3-6.
In October of 1977, 12-year-old white Louisiana Elefante’s grandmother wakes her in the middle of the night, puts her in the car, and, while crossing over the border from Florida to Georgia, experiences some massive dental issues, causing Louisiana to have to drive the car to the nearest small-town dentist. This trip sets in motion a series of events and encounters that make Louisiana question everything she thought she knew about her world and her place within it with her grandmother spilling the truth about Louisiana’s past while affording her the unique opportunity of being able to decide for herself who she is. Set two years after her novel Raymie Nightingale (Candlewick, 2016) which first introduced the character of Louisiana, DiCamillo’s latest work highlights her gift for crafting memorable characters with just a minimum of brush strokes—such as the feisty, deadpan motel owner, and an African American church organist who smells of the caramels she continually snacks on. A spare and efficient triumph of storytelling, DiCamillo imbues Louisiana and her authentic, first-person narration with a palpable resilience and perseverance with an ultimately hopeful denouement that has her protagonist understand that, “Well, the whole world was upside down. But it was still spinning. Wasn’t it?”
Eric Barbus, San Francisco Public Library