Thanks to Candlewick Press for an advanced digital galley of this release for the purposes of review.
“And I knew what I wanted to do. I knew who I wanted to be. I wanted to be the person who sat at that table. I wanted to stay”
- Kate DiCamillo, Louisiana’s Way Home
As indicated by the quote, Louisiana’s Way Home illustrates a youthful perspective of discovering and understanding the world and everything it has to offer. Constructed by Kate DiCamillo, the story proves to be an intricate puzzle of a story told through the eyes of a girl, using her own unique and captivating voice that transforms a moderately envisioned plot into a riveting experience.
The story begins as of Louisiana, a young girl living a content life with her granny, pets, and friends until everything she knew vanishes one night. Driving off into the unknown with her granny, Louisiana reflects on the peculiar curse that broke the routine that she had created and caused her granny to depart from home in the middle of the night. She thinks of her deceased parents, the Flying Elephants, who were trapeze artists. She thinks of everything and everyone she left behind in Florida and how desperately she wants everything to return to the way it once was, thinking of her shattered world. In retrospective, this set-up appears rather cushioned due to how familiar it can feel. Outside of the unique form of storytelling, DiCamillo never offers a plot that feels bold or ambitious in its narrative scope.
Eventually, Louisiana and her granny cross the Florida-Georgia border, leading to startling and confusing events. However, and fortunately, DiCamillo uses these seemingly unimportant events to pave a pathway to a small town in Georgia. In this town, Louisiana begins to unfold her past and learn more about herself and the world around her. A boy with a crow, a church, several hair curlers, a pink house, a hotel, and even seventeen cakes help Louisiana find her independent voice and discover the meaning of home. Though the plot seems to collide in certain parts and occasionally become clouded and deluded in its overarching design, DiCamillo sustains her unique writing style and the story along with it. Not once did the ambitious style of the storytelling ever bleed through the text, allowing the characters from Louisiana to her fellow side characters to flourish in their respective area.
Throughout, DiCamillo adds so much realism into the character of Louisiana, while still maintaining an aura around her that radiates charm. Having this raw aspect to her character, Louisiana becomes a person who readers can laugh, cry, and simply relate with repeatedly. In relation to the somewhat drastically poor literary protagonists seen so far in the year, Louisiana breaks walls and obstacles by her well-executed design. There are many authors who strive to have their characters create the same emotions as DiCamillo is with Louisiana, however very few even come close to the mark.
Even with all of her childish beliefs and flaws, Louisiana’s tale is a riddle told through a blend of beautiful storytelling and maze of questions. As the story progresses and readers hungrily flip through the pages in excitement for the character of Louisiana, the clever overarching design of the book comes to light. Proving itself as a worthy extension of her previous novel Raymie Nightingale, Louisiana’s Way Home continues Kate DiCamillo’s list of enchanting books for all to appreciate and enjoy.
Score: 8.2 out of 10
From two-time Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo comes a story of discovering who you are — and deciding who you want to be.
When Louisiana Elefante’s granny wakes her up in the middle of the night to tell her that the day of reckoning has arrived and they have to leave home immediately, Louisiana isn’t overly worried. After all, Granny has many middle-of-the-night ideas. But this time, things are different. This time, Granny intends for them never to return. Separated from her best friends, Raymie and Beverly, Louisiana struggles to oppose the winds of fate (and Granny) and find a way home. But as Louisiana’s life becomes entwined with the lives of the people of a small Georgia town — including a surly motel owner, a walrus-like minister, and a mysterious boy with a crow on his shoulder — she starts to worry that she is destined only for good-byes. (Which could be due to the curse on Louisiana's and Granny’s heads. But that is a story for another time.)
Called “one of DiCamillo’s most singular and arresting creations” by The New York Times Book Review, the heartbreakingly irresistible Louisiana Elefante was introduced to readers in Raymie Nightingale — and now, with humor and tenderness, Kate DiCamillo returns to tell her story.
LOUISIANA'S WAY HOME releases on October 2nd, 2018 and can be pre-ordered here.