What Ricky’s Reading

Louisiana’s Way Home

by Kate DiCamillo

Have you ever had one of those years? Everything went wrong. Everything seemed cursed.

Louisiana’s Way Home is the story of a young girl named Louisiana Elefante and the effects of a generational curse set in motion by her great-grandfather, a magician. The story opens with Louisiana writing down her story. “I am going to write it all down, so that what happened to me will be known…This is what happened.” Louisiana’s grandmother, Granny, shakes her awake at 3 a.m. with an ominous message, “The day of reckoning has arrived. The hour is close at hand. We must leave immediately.”

Without further explanation, the reader is rushed off with Granny and Louisiana on a date with destiny. There are two problems – Louisiana doesn’t want to go and there is a family curse. With all the insistence of a young child, Louisiana pesters Granny about the trip. Louisiana wants to go back home to Florida with best friends Raymie Clarke and Beverly Tapinski, the King of Cats named Archie, and a one-eyed cat named Buddy. She doesn’t care about a date with destiny or if Granny has her best interests in mind.

Granny feels unwell, the car runs out of gas, and Louisiana Elefante refuses to speak. The curse is alive and well. It hits yet again as Granny begins to scream in pain, “Oh, my tooth, my tooth. Oh, it is the curse of my father.” Louisiana doesn’t know where she is, Granny is in the back seat writhing in pain, and now she has to drive a car to find a dentist that will handle this emergency.

Where are we going? What is this thing called destiny? What do you do when you and your family are cursed because your great-grandfather sawed your great-grandmother in half on stage and refused to put her back together again?

Kate DiCamillo, winner of two Newbery Medals, is a master of childhood stories told from the child’s perspective. Louisiana’s Way Home is one of those books. Is the curse real? Will everything turn out okay for Louisiana? I suggest you read and find out.

The sentence structure of the book is choppy, but it is exactly what you would expect if a young child was telling the story. As adults, we fill our mind with bad news and ugly political debates. It is nice to step away from this world and view things from a different perspective. Wonder still exists. If you don’t believe me, watch a baby gaze into the eyes of his mother. Take two little girls under the age of four to see Disney’s Frozen On Ice. Life is not a curse. It is a miraculous blessing.

Ricky Statham is director at Oneonta Public Library. Visit the library Monday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., to check out this or another great book.