DiCamillo writes in a spare style, describing small, seemingly disparate moments that gradually come together in a rich, dynamic picture. The other thing she does brilliantly is shape characters whose eccentricities make them heartbreakingly, vividly real, like Elmer, whose acne-covered face is a mask that hides his humanity; Freddie, the young waitress with great expectations that are colored by untruths; and owlish Iola Jenkins, whose willingness to take a chance on Beverly counts for everything. Thoughtful and hopeful in equal measure.
—Booklist (starred review)
This thoughtful companion to two-time Newbery Medal–winner DiCamillo’s Raymie Nightingale and Louisiana’s Way Home follows Beverly Tapinski, the third of the Three Rancheros, in August 1979—four years after the first book’s events…Secondary characters—sensitive teen store clerk Elmer, who’s interested in art; bingo enthusiast Iola; and the staff of Mr. C’s—are well defined through concise narrative and dialogue, and DiCamillo builds them into a new community that matters a great deal to Beverly. But it’s Beverly’s private moments—thoughts of the other Rancheros, a message revealed, a love for the term lapis lazuli—that move her from being a person in flight to a present, whole participant in her world.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
In this third book about the girls, DiCamillo mixes familiar ingredients: absent parents, disparate friends, the ability to drive a car, the power of generosity, and the satisfaction of a big celebratory meal…simply told and progressing in real time, readers encounter this world through Beverly’s eyes and mind, finding pleasure in small things, appreciating friends of all sorts, coming to terms with losses, and moving on. A satisfying read that stands alone but is richer for its company.