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I have to fess up and say that, although I love most of Kate DiCamillo’s work, I was not a fan of Raymie Nightingale. It has been a delightful surprise that I have truly enjoyed both Louisiana’s Way Home and this newest addition, Beverly, Right Here. We were introduced to Beverly Tapinski in Raymie Nightingale but it is within the pages of this, her own story, that Beverly actually comes into her own as a fully-formed character.

Bereft after the death of her dog, Buddy, and feeling unloved, unwanted and abandoned by everyone Beverly decides to hitch a ride and run away to a little town in Florida. Only fourteen, Beverly manages to get herself hired to bus tables at a fish restaurant where the owner pays everyone in cash (no official paperwork). Beverly befriends an elderly lady named Iola who offers Beverly a place to stay in exchange for driving her to Bingo every week and a shy, young clerk at Zoom City named Elmer. Beverly is clearly drawn to individuals who espouse kindness as a value.

As Beverly begins to organize the new people around her into a quirky little family of her own she begins to reflect on who she is at her core and what she wants from life. I loved Beverly, Right Here more than I had anticipated. Beverly’s voice is achingly heartfelt. As she faces her own feelings of abandonment and loneliness she also begins to find ways to embrace those about her who fill that deep void.

A beautiful and moving coming-of-age story, Beverly, Right Here is a brilliant reading choice for middle grade readers–particularly girls.