Louisiana’s Way Home
by Kate DiCamillo
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.
The story opens with the narrator, Louisiana, who’s abruptly awakened by her granny at 3am. At first she doesn’t think much of it.
“I thought I was caught up in some middle-of-the-night idea of Granny’s and that when the sun came up, she would think better of the whole thing.
This has happened before.
Granny has many middle-of-the-night ideas.”
Once she realizes that they are about to enter Georgia, she asks Granny when they’ll be turning around to go back home. Granny simply tells her that they won’t be going home and that the time for turning around has ended.
“Because the hour of reckoning has arrived,” said Granny in a very serious voice, “and the curse at last must be confronted.”
Louisiana is aware that there’s a curse on her head–a family curse that’s been passed down from generation to generation, even though she doesn’t completely understand it. Even with this quite adventurous road trip, Louisiana is angry. She wants to go back home to her friends in Florida and find out where her cat Archie is. In the days that follow, Louisiana will learn many things about herself that she never knew. Her future becomes uncertain as she begins to question her existence. She’ll have to figure out how to find herself again and face some important decisions with difficulty.
My thoughts on this book:
This book was really interesting in the beginning and we were enjoying it, but parts of it seemed a little humdrum in between when there wasn’t much going on. The premise is good and the writing great, but it was roughly half way through that it really grabbed our attention. We had no idea what was going to happen and wondered what the end would be like. It was very surprising.
I’ll say that between the three of us reading the book, we all had different feelings: My daughter didn’t love it, my son absolutely loved it, and I simply liked it. I think for my younger daughter it was because she wasn’t picking up on some of the more complex topics and themes and we had to discuss these because the recommended reading age for this book is ten and up. It was still my turn to read at the end of the book and I couldn’t even finish the last four paragraphs or so. My daughter had to read it while my son and I cried our eyes out. It was at that point that all the emotions came together. What a story.
With themes of friendship, family, love and forgiveness, this book made me think about my dad who was in a very similar situation as a teen. In his case, this was something that he never got over. I think there are many children out there that could use some support and will benefit from reading Louisiana’s story.
We haven’t read Raymie Nightingale yet and I noticed in the blurb that it’s this book where Louisiana is first introduced. I sort of wish we would’ve started with that one first because I believe it’s possible that Louisiana plays a large role in it, but we’ll be reading that one soon–right after The Tale of Despereaux.
- Age Range: 10 and up
- Grade Level: 5 – 6
- Hardcover: 240 pages
- Publisher: Candlewick (October 2, 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0763694630
- ISBN-13: 978-0763694630