Three Rancheros #3: Beverly, Right Here – Kate DiCamillo

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.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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.

Three Rancheros #1: Raymie Nightingale – Kate DiCamillo

“Have you ever in your life come to realize that everything, absolutely everything, depends on you?”

Raymie is learning how to twirl a baton. If she can master that, then surely she’ll be crowned Little Miss Central Florida Tire 1975. Then her father will see her photograph in the newspaper and come back home. See, he ran off with Lee Ann, the dental hygienist, two days ago.

Louisiana also plans to win the contest. Beverly plans to sabotage it. These three unlikely friends meet during one of Ida Nee’s baton-twirling lessons and quickly become the Three Rancheros.

Raymie is sad, Louisiana is scared and Beverly is angry. Together they face fears and painful truths, supporting one another along the way. They also search for Archie, the King of the Cats, and meet a one eyed dog named Buddy, not Bunny.

I really liked the supporting characters in this book, especially Mrs Sylvester, who has the best work phone banter ever (“How may we protect you?”), and Mrs Borkowski, who asks great questions and whose catchphrase seems to be “Phhhhtttt.”

“And I wonder what will become of us. Don’t you wonder what will become of us?”

I was left needing more information about Louisiana and Beverly, so thankfully they have their own books. I would have been so disappointed if the Three Rancheros’ story ended here, when I have so many unanswered questions. Now I need to revisit Louisiana’s story (yes, I read the second book first!) before I find out more about Beverly, who I suspect may wind up being my favourite Ranchero.

Content warnings include physical abuse, neglect, death, loss and abandonment.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Raymie Clarke has come to realize that everything, absolutely everything, depends on her. And she has a plan. If Raymie can win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition, then her father, who left town two days ago with a dental hygienist, will see Raymie’s picture in the paper and (maybe) come home.

To win, not only does Raymie have to do good deeds and learn how to twirl a baton; she also has to contend with the wispy, frequently fainting Louisiana Elefante, who has a show-business background, and the fiery, stubborn Beverly Tapinski, who’s determined to sabotage the contest.

But as the competition approaches, loneliness, loss, and unanswerable questions draw the three girls into an unlikely friendship – and challenge each of them to come to the rescue in unexpected ways.

Three Rancheros #2: Louisiana’s Way Home – Kate DiCamillo

“It is a long and tragic story full of dark alleys and twists and turns and many unexpected happenings,” I said. “And also curses. There are curses in the story.”

When Louisiana’s Granny wakes her at 3am, bundles her in the car and starts driving, Louisiana assumes this is just another one of Granny’s “middle-of-the-night ideas”. But this time Granny keeps driving and Louisiana wonders if she’ll ever see Raymie and Beverly (her two best friends), Archie the King of the Cats or one eyed dog Buddy again.

Louisiana’s story should be devastating and believe me when I tell you that parts of it are (have tissues on hand), but Louisiana’s perseverance, determination and courage transforms her story into one of hope. My main niggle was that while Louisiana did express sadness, anger and confusion about her circumstances, the extent of those very understandable feelings appeared to be glossed over on occasion in the rush to find the positive.

This is Louisiana’s second appearance in a Kate DiCamillo book but the first of Kate’s books I’ve read. After falling in love with Louisiana I’ve ordered Raymie Nightingale from the library (I love my library!). While I could easily jump straight into reading Louisiana’s Way Home without having already read Raymie Nightingale I want to get to know Raymie and Beverly. I‘m keen to find out what Louisiana was up to two years ago and am very interested in learning more about Louisiana’s relationship with her Granny.

Louisiana is simply adorable and I was equally fond of many of the people she meets along the way. I also appreciated the roles the cantankerous characters played and I loved that the author was able to bring all of the characters to life, even those we only meet briefly. I want to tell you all about the different characters that I fell in love with but I don’t want to spoil anything for you so instead will encourage you to discover them all for yourself.

In some ways, this is a story of woe and confusion, but it is also a story of joy and kindness and free peanuts.

Louisiana’s story is ultimately one of family, friendship and deciding who you want to be. This young girl is going to find her way into the hearts of so many readers, children and adults alike. I already know that I’m going to want to reread this book once I’ve read Raymie Nightingale and I expect that I’m going to need to read more of this author’s books as soon as possible.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Candlewick Press for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Reread 12 June 2019

I am absolutely in love with this book! I didn’t think I could love Louisiana more than I did when I first read her story but I was so wrong. I want to hug her and make her feel safe and wanted and loved, and never let her go. This story is about deciding who you are, something we all need to do. Louisiana just has to make that decision earlier than most people. It’s a heartbreaking and heartwarming story and it’s gorgeous!

I appreciated the Allen family more with this reread too. All of the Burke Allen’s and the sole Betty Allen are my new favourite people; I want to bake with Betty and hang out with every Burke. I want to meet Clarence and let him know he can trust me.

I finally read Raymie Nightingale and jumped straight into this reread. I realise now that there are spoilers in this book for Raymie so I’d recommend reading the Three Rancheros books in publication order. I’m so excited to have the opportunity to read Beverly’s story early and will be starting Beverly, Right Here right now!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

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.)