Louisiana Finds Her Way
Louisiana, a supporting character from DiCamillo’s well loved Raymie Nightingale, tells her stand-alone story from a first person account of the days after she is taken from her Florida home by her granny, losing contact with friends and pets, and discovering that her entire life’s story is a giant lie.She writes in a blend of innocent and weathered voice – charmingly melancholy:
“It is a dark day when you do not believe your granny.”
“I smiled back at him, but I did not use all of my teeth because, oh, my heart was heavy.”
“My goodness, I was lonely. I almost wished that a blind cat and a lame fox would show up, even if they were just going to tell me lies.”
This tonal style fits the sorrowful story and our reluctantly resilient heroine well. In comments about other books featuring resilient girls, we started the discussion on the different types of resilience and Louisiana’s is one that is demanded of her, out of survival necessity, and she is hyper aware of her own adaptability. Which might stretch the credibility of her voice for some readers, but not for me. I found in her voice a deep authenticity that represents the inner thoughts of children, especially those that do not have responsible adults who care for them adequately.
Speaking of credibility — readers must first accept that this is somewhat of a tall-tale for the plot to “make sense.” Otherwise, the schemes of both granny’s and Louisana’s and the solutions to dire situations all would be too improbable to swallow. I ate it all up with great appreciation.
DiCamillo manages to tell a story with an extremely dark theme of emotional and physical abuse (Louisana’s constant hunger) in a fashion that is clearly understandable and would appeal to the target readership.
Louisiana’s Way Home received 9 nominations from Heavy Medal readers and has now risen to be among my own top 7 contenders of the year. Eager to hear from all of you about it, especially from those who have very different reactions to the book!
(And this is irrelevant, but this front COVER!)
Filed under: Book Discussion
About Roxanne Hsu Feldman
Roxanne Hsu Feldman is the Middle School (4th to 8th grade) Librarian at the Dalton School in New York City. She served on the 2002 and 2013 Newbery Committees. Roxanne was also a member of 2008-2009 Notable Books for Children, 2015 Best Fiction for Young Adults, and the 2017 Odyssey Award Committees. In 2016 Roxanne was one of the three judges for the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards. You can reach her at at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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