MMGM: Beverly, Right Here, by Kate DiCamillo
Is "gem of a book" an official genre yet? What is it about those books, light in your hand and small on the shelf, where every word counts and every sentence roots itself into your heart?
Only a few authors can pull off these gems... Neil Gaiman. Patricia MacLaughlin. Laura Amy Schlitz. Kate DiCamillo.
Most of DiCamillo's books are gems, in my opinion. But her latest, Beverly, Right Here, is like a tiny, perfectly cut diamond. It might not have the mass and showiness of bigger gems, but when the light hits it just right, sunshine glitters around everything in reach.
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Beverly, Right Here is the third book in Kate DiCamillo's "series" (I like to think of them more as "companion books") begun with the award-winning Raymie Nightingale and followed up by Louisiana's Way Home (which stars my favorite character of the three). Most authors would never get away with writing three books in a set that are so vastly different from one another. Each has DiCamillo's signature simple style. But Raymie is a little melancholy and more plot-heavy. Louisiana is whimsical and heart-breaking and hopeful. And Beverly goes way off to the side of the Venn diagram by being a sparse, slightly angsty, gentle and graceful Young Adult novella. It's really too short to call it a novel, or to compare the plot or character development to that of a longer book. It's almost a long short story, and--like the best short stories--every word does double duty...if not triple or quadruple. Every speck of conversation furthers both plot and theme. Every physical detail included is important. Every thought and action is sure to point you toward the climax.
Beverly, Right Here is a story about becoming. Not simply coming of age, like many of my favorite YA books, but of becoming who you really are in the first place; getting past all your baggage and hurt and sad memories and realizing the gem that shines underneath it all.
To find more Marvelous Middle Grade Monday recommendations, visit Greg's blog! (Thanks for hosting, Greg!)