Beverly, right here by Kate DiCamillo
Walker Books, 2019. ISBN: 9781406390704.
(Age: 10+) Highly recommended. Themes: Homelessness, Running away, Bingo, Old age. When Beverly, aged fourteen, leaves home, catching a lift with a neighbour after the burial of her beloved dog, Buddy, she has little idea of what she will do. She knows that life with her indifferent mother is not what she wants, and wants to set out on her own, without needing other people. Meeting Iola at the local caravan park sees her having a bed for the night. She finds work at a local fish cafe, clearing the tables. Here she must deal with Freddie the waitress always on the lookout for her opportunity and the sad Mr Denby the owner. She meets Elmer at the local Zoom City and they become friends, and she eats with Iola each night, taking her to the bingo once a week, driving her in her big old Pontiac. Slowly Beverly becomes a part of the community she has found, becoming part of the lives of the people she meets, allowing them to see a little of herself.
Readers will readily follow Beverly's journey to self understanding, seeing the connections she makes with others, allowing herself to reveal a little of what is inside her. She is bristly and rude, short on words and keeps her feelings to herself, and as the story unfolds we learn to love her as a character, flaws and all. Those she meets along the way too are full of interest and will keep readers alert to their traits.
A dance allows Beverly to learn some steps and dance with Elmer, finding that is the best night of her life. But more is to follow as Iola wins the turkey and everyone who Beverly has met is invited to Christmas dinner in August.
This charming tale will bring smiles to the readers, as Beverly finally rings her friend back home, Rayma, to ask to be picked up. She has decided what she wants. We first met the abrasive Beverly in Raymie Nightingale. Teacher's notes are available.
I love DiCamillo's work, subtle and plausible, showing characters from backgrounds not usually seen in books, engaging and entertaining.