Kate DiCamillo, Beverly, Right Here, Walker Books, September 2019, 249 pp., RRP $19.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781406390704
Beverly, Right Here is set in 1979. Having just buried her beloved dog, Buddy, 14 year old Beverly sees no reason to continue living with her drunken mother and the succession of boyfriends, so she hitches a ride to Tamaray Beach, Florida. Reflecting the spirit of simpler times, it doesn’t take long for Beverly to find a job working at the local fish restaurant clearing tables, and a chance encounter with Lola, the elderly lady living in a pink caravan in Seahorse Court means she has somewhere to stay.
As the hot August days pass, Beverly finds herself becoming a part of the local culture; her depressed boss, Mr Denby, ambitious Freddie with the troublemaker boyfriend and Elmer, the college bound bookworm, shape her experiences as much as the lapis-lazuli blue ocean and the mercilessly hot blue sky.
Set over a period of a few weeks, Beverly, Right Here tells a story of identity, friendship and finding family. It is a 70’s polaroid photo that captures big ideas and complex concepts but expressed with simplicity through the eyes of Beverly, who focuses on finding pleasure in small things and appreciating the little that she has.
Young readers today will be surprised by the way life has changed since 1979 – and yet there is much that they will relate to in Beverly’s thoughts, as she reflects on her friends, the meaning of home, and importantly, who she is as a person.
Beautifully crafted sentences and sparkling vocabulary make this story easy to read and understand. Boys and girls aged 10-13 will really enjoy this book, which can be read as a stand-alone, or as the final title in the three book series which shares the stories of the ‘Three Rancheros’ – Raymie, Louisiana and Beverly.
Teachers’ notes can be found here.
Reviewed by Kay Oddone