Review: Louisiana’s Way Home

“In some ways, this is a story of woe and confusion, but it is also a story of joy and kindness and free peanuts,” Kate DiCamillo  


Louisiana’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo
227 pages
Genre: Children’s literature
Published by: Candlewick Press, 2018
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Re-readability: I’ll definitely return to this one again and again over the years.
Reviewed by Indiana
Spoiler-free review


There’s something about a child’s perspective that seems to make the world melt. It makes even the most callous person pause and gives joy to those to take the time to listen.

Kate DiCamillo understands that perspective better than any author I’ve ever read. With wit, humor, and a touch of whimsy, she brings us Louisiana, a character who is known for singing, fainting, and being resourceful, even wily at times. Fans of DiCamillo may remember Louisiana from Raymie Nightingale, which is another great work, but this one—as the title indicates—is all about Louisiana.

It opens on an adventurous and slightly psychotic scene: “We left in the middle of the night. Granny woke me up. She said, ‘The day of reckoning has arrived. The hour is close at hand. We must leave immediately.’ It was three a.m.”

Trying to confront her past, Louisiana’s Granny and only caretaker, leads them on an journey across state lines and miles from their Florida home. There’s a dentist, a laughing crow, an angry motel owner whose hair always seems to be coiffed in curlers, a clever and kind boy, a sleepy put helpful pastor, a creeping curse, and pies. Lots and lots of pies.

This is one of my favorite DiCamillo books because it’s incredibly easy to see into each and every character. With just a sentence or two of description, DiCamillo has me imagining of these characters (probably) as she sees them. Louisiana is probably one of her strongest characters so far. At one point in the beginning, Louisiana has to take control of their journey as Granny suddenly experiences a health problem: “You may be surprised to learn that I had never driven a car before. However, I had certainly spent a lot of time watching Granny drive, and I had learned some things.”

Even though she’s the character who is willowy, who faints, who has a rather sad past, she’s also delightfully dramatic and charming: “In some ways, this is a story of woe and confusion, but it is also a story of joy and kindness and free peanuts.” Later on in the book, when her world as she knows it is changed dramatically, it’s truly a joy to watch her react and grow with all her wisdom (some taken from her Granny and some from her own experiences) and humor.

 

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