Fourteen-year-old Beverly has run away from home before. But this time, she plans on leaving for good. Beverly wants to make it on her own. She finds a job and a place to stay, but she can’t stop thinking about her drunk mother and her dog Buddy, who is buried under the orange trees back home. She also worries about her friend Raymie, who she left without saying a word.
Beverly doesn’t want to make friends. She doesn’t want to care about anyone. In a world where everyone has left her, Beverly decides to only care about herself. But soon, she realizes that there are good people around her. There are people that care about her and depend on her. As she begins to find a sense of community, she learns about herself as well.
It’s 1979 and Beverly hops in a car with her cousin, who drops her off in a random town. She has no money, no friends, and no idea where her steps will take her. Luckily, Beverly finds Iona, who takes in Beverly and treats her like a beloved niece. Iona is funny, truthful, and an overall wonderful person. However, the story never hints at the dangers of running away and trusting complete strangers.
Set in 1979, Beverly, Right Here does not show the dangers of the modern world. For example, in one scene, when an older man pinches Beverly’s butt, the waitress tells her not to complain. Another troubling aspect of the story is Beverly’s relationship with Elmer. Although Elmer’s age is never revealed, he is preparing to go to college. Even though Elmer is a sweet soul, and Beverly and him only dance and hold hands, the age difference is alarming.
Unlike its companion book, Louisiana’s Way Home, the characters and themes in Beverly, Right Here are not as developed, which leaves too many unanswered questions. Even though Beverly’s mother is a drunk, it is unclear why Beverly felt the need to run away. In addition, Beverly talks about the death of her dog; however, the reader doesn’t know how the dog died and why the dog’s death had such a negative impact on Beverly. Lastly, at the end of the book, Iona’s son shows up, questions her decision-making skills, threatens to take away Iona’s car, and tells Beverly she is “nobody” and must leave.
Beverly, Right Here is realistic fiction that highlights the importance of making connections. The short chapters and easy vocabulary help propel the action forward. Although there are several interesting characters, including Iona and Elmer, Beverly’s actions are at times confusing. The abrupt conclusion leaves the reader wondering what will happen to Iona and Beverly. Beverly, Right Here is a companion book to Raymie Nightingale and Louisiana’s Way Home. However, each book can be read as a stand-alone.
- While working at a restaurant, “a fat old man with a cigar in his mouth pinched [Beverly] on the butt.”
- Beverly’s friend, Elmer, tells her about a school bully who “beats the crap out of you, for being a poetry-loving sissy.”
- When Elmer was in high school, he was bullied. A boy duct-taped Elmer to a chair and locked him in a janitor’s closet. When the janitor found him and let him loose, “he cried. And I cried.”
- A man comes into a restaurant and threatens the owner with a whiffle bat. As the man leaves, he yells, “If you call the cops, I’ll come back here to this stupid fish place and break everybody’s bones. I promise you I will.” After the owner gives the man money, one of the employees chases the thief down and tackles him.
Drugs and Alcohol
- Beverly mentions that her mother was “drunk all the time.”
- When Beverly calls her mother, she thinks that her mother “didn’t sound too drunk.”
- Beverly thinks about her mother “sitting on the back porch, drinking beer and cigarettes. . .”
- Beverly tells a friend that her mother is “drunk most of the time.”
- Beverly’s cousin yells at her, “Dang it! You always did think that you were better than everybody else on God’s green earth.”
- When a woman sees Beverly’s wet, sandy clothes, the woman says, “Lord, child. What have you been doing?”
- When Beverly was younger, she would eat glue because “it was just a way to piss the teachers off.”
- A woman calls Beverly “con artist trash.”
- Crap is used six times. For example, Beverly wonders, “why was there so much crap in the world?”