Louisiana's Way Home

Image of Louisiana's Way Home
Release Date: 
October 1, 2018
Reviewed by: 

“Louisiana’s Way Home is one of those books that touches your heart. . . . Brilliant!”

Louisiana’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo is everything you’d expect from one of America’s most beloved storytellers . . . children’s literature at its finest! A poignant story of self-discovery, as told by the ever charming Louisiana Elefante, is uplifting, hopeful, and inspiring from the first page to the last.

“I am going to write it all down. So that what happened to me will be known, so that if someone were to stand at their window at night and look up at the stars and think, ‘My goodness, whatever happened to Louisiana Elefante? Where did she go?’ They will have an answer. They will know. This is what happened. I will begin at the beginning.”

From this first entry, you are already hooked. This voice sounds sure and strong . . . someone who has survived an ordeal and lived to tell the tale. Surely, someone to be admired. You are already invested, already full of unanswered questions. Who is this Louisiana Elefante? Where did she go? What did happen to her? And since you need to know more about her, you’ll venture further into the story, looking for answers. What you’ll find is a story of hope . . . an incredible journey of the bravest character you will have the fortune to meet.

When 12-year-old Louisiana Elefante is awakened in the middle of the night by her granny’s preposterous mutterings about family curses and the expected day of reckoning having arrived as promised, she merely goes along, no questions asked. After all, this was what her life with Granny has always looked like. Unpredictability at its finest!

Although Louisiana has no idea where they’re going or what she will do without her friends and pets they’ve left behind, she knows who she is: Louisiana Elefante! Daughter of the world renowned, although long deceased, trapeze artists, The Flying Elefantes! Great granddaughter of the legendary magician, Hiram Elefante the Great!, who unfortunately passes down the dreaded “curse of sundering” to his daughter and thus to Louisiana herself. Families are known to do that sometimes. So she strives to be brave in the face of the unknown. After all, Granny has a plan. She seems to know where they’re going and what to do about breaking the family curse . . . or does she?

Granny soon proves to be an unreliable guardian when she is suddenly struck with a debilitating toothache. Desperate times call for desperate actions, and when Louisiana finds herself stranded by the side of a deserted road with her incapacitated Granny curled up in the backseat, she does the only thing she can think of at the time. She gets behind the wheel of Granny’s car, and off they go in search of a dentist!

Not only does Louisiana find Granny a dentist, she also secures temporary lodging at the Good Night, Sleep Tight Motel where she meets an intriguing crow and his boy/owner Burke Allen, who turns out to be the very best kind of friend, a friend who, when asked for a sandwich, will give you two. The entire Allen family is a beacon of hope for Louisiana, a light in a life that seems to get darker with each turn of the page. 

In spite of being thrown headfirst into this whirlwind of chaos, Louisiana continues to do the one thing Granny has always told her to do. “If you have to choose between smiling and not smiling, choose smiling.  It fools people for a short time.  It gives you an advantage.” This one simple directive will serve her well in a variety of situations to come. In a final bid to rid them of the terrible curse of sundering which ironically means “to tear apart,” Granny has an epiphany: “It has become clear to me what I must do. I must go and confront the curse. I must do it alone.”

Granny will leave Louisiana alone with nothing but a devastating note as an explanation to her disappearance and the truth about Louisiana’s past. The revelations cut deep; everything she has ever thought to be true about herself is proven to be a lie. If everything in the note is true, she was not even a blood relation to Granny, the person who loves her more than anything in the world. She is a foundling, abandoned at birth and discovered by the woman who would raise her up. In her entire life, the only thing Louisiana had ever been certain of, was who she was and even this is now an uncertainty. But Granny leaves Louisiana with a bit of advice that will help her greatly in the coming days of rediscovering who she is and who she’s meant to be.

“. . . I wish that I had time to see you to safety, but you are wily, resilient. You are not alone in the world. You will find a way. And please remember this: Someone put you down in that alley, but I picked you up. And perhaps what matters when all is said and done is not who puts us down but who picks us up.”

Louisiana’s Way Home is one of those books that touches your heart. You will remember it long after you’ve finished reading it.  Brilliant!