Recommended by Vanessa Jelbert (@Vanrocksss)
Form and genre: Prose, Fiction
Length: 249 pages
This moving story about a runaway teen and a quirky cast of her newfound friends is a fitting conclusion to DiCamillo’s trilogy about best friends in 1970s Florida.
Beverly Trapinski has just buried her beloved dog, her alcoholic mother does not seem interested in what she does, so she hitches a ride with her cousin to a little seaside town.
Here she quickly lands a job clearing tables in a fish restaurant and she finds somewhere to live when a lonely old lady asks her to stay with her in her pink trailer, in return for lifts to the shops and the bingo.
Age recommendation and challenging content:
There’s smoking (by adults and older teens) , the occasional “piss” and “crap,” plus an underage kid driving an old lady to bingo.
I recommend for year 7 and possibly 8.
Notable reasons for recommending this book:
This story describes the coming together of unlikely characters and addresses the idea of family being something vital to a healthy human existence, though not something limited to our blood lines and last names.
Beverly is tough, vulnerable, with a strong sense of right and wrong and is unwaveringly honest with everyone she meets.
She gradually learns through her runaway experience that looking out for each other does matter and that even flawed people deserve happiness, acceptance and a place to call home.
It is also steeped in 70’s culture, with plenty of characters smoking, writing letters as a form of communication and a functional telephone box featuring as an important part of the plot.
Other useful information: Longlisted for the Carnegie Awards 2021. It’s the third in the series, and a relatively easy read. Not really challenging enough to be a class reader, but great for reluctant readers to get stuck into.