Louisiana's Way Home
by Kate DiCamillo
Age Range: 8-12
Release Date: October 2, 2018
In April of 2016, the incomparable Kate DiCamillo introduced us to Raymie Clarke. Raymie was trying to find her way, as so many of us do, and she found a kinship with two girls along the way. One of these girls was Louisiane Elefante (daughter of the Flying Elefantes, you know), and she has her own winding path ahead of her.
When Louisiana’s granny wakes her up in the middle of the night and they hit the road, Lousiana is not overly worried. Granny gets these ideas in her head now and then, and she figures they’ll be back home sooner or later. Only this time, it doesn’t look like Granny will rethink things. How will Louisiana convince Granny to go back home, where everything and everyone she cares about most in the world are waiting for her?
Louisiana’s story is the journey I didn’t know I needed. Kate DiCamillo has a wonderfully thoughtful way of capturing just the right moment in a character’s world. We get a remarkably vivid screenshot into one period of their lives, and it always has just the right parameters. As much as you don’t want to leave her worlds, they always fill you up before they end. When Raymie Nightingale hit the shelves, it was just as satisfying as her previous works. And I felt at peace with my allotted time in Raymie’s head. Little did I know, there was someone else’s headspace I needed to occupy for a while.
And oh, what a floaty, heartfelt journey it was. Louisiana has always been sure of who she is. She’s the daughter of the Flying Elefantes, the famous trapeze artists. She’s the caretaker of Archie, King of the Cats, and of Buddy, the one-eyed dog. She is the best friend of Raymie Clarke and Beverly Tapinski. This is all she needs. As Granny continues to drag her along (where and why doesn’t make much sense to her), Louisiana begins questioning everything she knows about herself.
Though Louisiana has experienced much sadness in her life, and her story does not pretend otherwise, she carries a fierce warmth with her. This girl wants only to spread joy, and in turn, joy is all you want for her. All her hardships only make her more determined to be with those she loves again, and her tale is told with a kind of introspective brilliance only Ms DiCamillo can create. Louisiana makes you want to reach right through the pages to give her a warm, shielding hug. These are the kinds of characters DiCamillo weaves together. The kind who love and hurt and try their hardest. The kind that are fully-dimensional and oh so real. The kind like Louisiana Elefante, who will welcome you into her head and even set up a nice little comfy space for you there.