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Beverly, Right Here

Book review by
Mary Eisenhart, Common Sense Media
Beverly, Right Here Book Poster Image
Compelling tale of runaway teen and her quirky new friends.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

One of the characters is big on the concept of equity, which influences assorted plot developments. The story's set in 1979 in the South, offering many opportunities to see how things were different then. One of the characters loves art, and as Beverly gets to know him we all learn more about the subject -- and how Renaissance painters got a particular shade of blue by grinding up lapis lazuli.

Positive Messages

Strong messages about friendship, belonging, trust, and looking out for one another.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Fourteen-year-old Beverly spends much of the book lying about her age, working hard at a fish house, and driving the old lady who takes her in to bingo at the VFW (because the lady's "helpful" neighbor frowns on gambling). She's tough, vulnerable, smart, fearless in defending her friends, and desperately alone without BFF Raymie (back home) and dog Buddy (now deceased). Raymie and their friend Louisana, who's also far away, remain a strong, supportive presence even when they're not there. Iola, the eccentric old lady who takes Beverly in, Elmer, the kind teen at the convenience mart, and a large cast of characters around town seem odd but do the right thing in a crisis.

Violence

One of the characters was bullied a lot, physically and otherwise, at school, and gets upset when his tormentor sends him a vaguely threatening message. The death of beloved dog Buddy causes Beverly to think there's nothing left for her at home and nothing matters. The local teen bully interrupts a Christmas-in-July party to rob the restaurant. It doesn't go well for him: An employee subdues him and holds him for the cops. Beverly explains her tooth is chipped because when she was a little kid she fell down because her mother's latest boyfriend was chasing her because she'd stolen his wallet. One of the customers at the restaurant is a butt-pincher who gives his victims large tips.

Sex

Budding attraction and a bit of hand-holding between Beverly and a 16-year-old boy. 

Language

Occasional "crap," "piss off."

Consumerism

Beverly drives Iola's ancient Pontiac. Definitely not a product endorsement.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The main reason 14-year-old Beverly leaves home in the wake of her dog's death is that her mom is drunk again, and she's had enough. Many adult characters smoke cigarettes.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Beverly, Right Here is the third book in a trilogy by Kate DiCamillo that began with Raymie Nightingale. Each book spotlights one of three BFFs. As this one opens, it's 1979, and 14-year-old Beverly Tapinski's beloved dog has just died. Also, her mom is drunk, as usual. So she hitches a ride with her cousin to a little seaside town where, thanks to a lot of kind strangers, she soon lands a job and forms an odd little family. There's smoking (by adults and older teens) and drinking (by adults), the occasional "piss" and "crap," plus an underage kid driving an old lady to bingo and similar shenanigans. But friendship, kindness, unexpected connection, belonging, and trust carry the day, even when it seems like the bullies of the world will always win.

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What's the story?

As BEVERLY, RIGHT HERE opens, it's 1979, 14-year-old Beverly Tapinski and her best friend, Raymie, have just buried Beverly's beloved dog Buddy. Beverly's hard-drinking mom is at it again, and Beverly, feeling the void of Buddy's absence, decides there's nothing to hold her at home anymore. Minutes later she's browbeaten her older cousin into dropping her off in the next town, Tamaray Beach, Florida. She soon gets a job busing tables at a fish restaurant and is taken in by a strange old lady in a trailer park -- who wants underage Beverly to drive her to bingo at the VFW.  Several of the things that could possibly go wrong do. But along the way, friendships form, romance blooms, bullies get their comeuppance, and worlds open.

Is it any good?

This moving story about a runaway teen and a quirky cast of her newfound friends is a fitting conclusion to Kate DiCamillo's trilogy about best friends in 1970s Florida. Beverly, Right Here shows how Beverly Tapinski, now 14, has always had to look out for herself, leaves home when her dog dies, and builds a new life a seaside town. She soon lands a job, finds a place to live, and gains some kind friends who look out for her and one another. But everyone's got troubles -- a broken family, abuse by a bully, a sad sense of loss as loved ones die. Whether driving an old lady named lola to bingo in an ancient car, messing with the local bully, or reminiscing about how she used to steal from her drunk mom's sleazy boyfriends, Beverly's a force to be reckoned with -- tough, vulnerable, with a strong sense of right and wrong.

"Beverly could think of all kinds of reasons not to trust.

"People leave -- that was one of the reasons.

"People pretended to care, but they don't, really -- that was another one.

"Dogs die, and your friends help you to put them in the ground.

"That was a big one, right there.

"'You can stay with me,' said Iola. She reached over and patted Beverly's arm. 'We will help each other out. We'll trust each other.'"

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how things have changed in daily life since 1979, and how Beverly, Right Here might be different if it took place today. Would it change the plot if everyone had cell phones and internet?

  • Do you know any kids who are dealing with parents who are abusive or have drug or drinking problems? How do they cope? What kind of support can their friends provide?

  • "Equity" turns out to be an important concept to several characters, who all have their own ideas about what it means in real life. What do you think?

Book details

Themes & Topics

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For kids who love historical fiction and friendship stories

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