I read the Three Rancheros series out of order. Louisiana’s Way Home was my first Kate DiCamillo read (ever) and it remains my favourite of the series. I absolutely adored Louisiana and every Burke Allen competed to become my favourite character.
When I read Raymie’s story I was introduced to this wonderful spitfire of a young girl called Beverly. I suspected at the time that Beverly would wind up being my favourite character of the series and couldn’t wait to read more about her. A little over three months ago I read her story and was shocked to discover that it was my least favourite book of the series at the time. I didn’t want to accept that so I decided a reread was in order. I’m so glad I tried again because I absolutely fell in love with Beverly’s story this time!
Before I go any further I want to share with you what is quite possibly my favourite passage of the entire series. It’s an excerpt of the author’s letter to the reader at the beginning of this book. It’s so beautiful that I keep rereading it. It makes me want to be a better person every time I see it.
Raymie Nightingale is about the saving grace of friendship. Louisiana’s Way Home is about deciding who you are. And Beverly, Right Here is about acting on that knowledge of who you are. They are all stories of becoming, I think. And all three of these books are about the power of community – the grace of someone opening a door and welcoming you in, and maybe most of all, having the courage to walk through that door once it’s open.
I get a little misty eyed even thinking about it. Anyway, without further ado …
It’s August 1979 and Beverly Tapinski is now 14 years old. Buddy, the one eyed “Dog of Our Hearts”, has died and Beverly has decided to leave home.
She had run away from home plenty of times, but that was when she was just a kid. It wasn’t running away this time, she figured. It was leaving. She had left.
Grieving the loss of her dog but determined not to cry, Beverly winds up at Seahorse Court. There she meets Iola Jenkins, an elderly lady who lives in a pink trailer with His Majesty, King Nod, an overweight grey cat.
In a crooked little house by a crooked little sea.
Pretty soon Beverly, who doesn’t like fish, is working in a seafood restaurant and eating tuna melts regularly. This child who believes she belongs to no one becomes important to some new friends and despite her best efforts not to let anyone into her heart, they find a way.
With a horse that takes you on a ride to nowhere, a determined and hopeful seagull and Christmas in July in August, this story cracked my heart wide open during my reread. I wanted to adopt both rough around the edges Beverly and quirky but loveable Iola, but my favourite character was Elmer. He’s polite, smart, sensitive and willing to step outside of his comfort zone, and he’s the type of friend that you know will be there for you no matter what. I adore him and would love to read about what happens to him in the years after this book finishes. Or he can just be my friend. Whatever comes first.
While I feel more satisfied after my reread and aren’t as desperate in my search for a nonexistent epilogue, I would love to one day learn that a fourth Rancheros book is being published, one that takes place 20 or 30 years later. It would be wonderful to catch up with this trio once they’re all grown up to find out what’s become of their lives and their friendship.
I’ve already read two of the Ranchero books twice and I loved both more the second time. I get the feeling that no matter how many times I return to them in the future I’m going to enjoy them more with every reread.
Content warnings include mention of the death of a beloved pet, inappropriate touching, bullying, abandonment and neglect.
Thank you so much to NetGalley and Candlewick Press for the opportunity to read this book.
Once Upon a Blurb
Beverly put her foot down on the gas. They went faster still. This was what Beverly wanted – what she always wanted. To get away. To get away as fast as she could. To stay away.
Beverly Tapinski has run away from home plenty of times, but that was when she was just a kid. By now, she figures, it’s not running away. It’s leaving. Determined to make it on her own, Beverly finds a job and a place to live and tries to forget about her dog, Buddy, now buried underneath the orange trees back home; her friend Raymie, whom she left without a word; and her mom, Rhonda, who has never cared about anyone but herself. Beverly doesn’t want to depend on anyone, and she definitely doesn’t want anyone to depend on her. But despite her best efforts, she can’t help forming connections with the people around her – and gradually, she learns to see herself through their eyes.