Beverly put her foot down on the gas. They went faster still.
This was what Beverly wanted — what she always wanted. To get away. To get away as fast as she could. To stay away.
Beverly Tapinski has run away from home plenty of times, but that was when she was just a kid. By now, she figures, it’s not running away. It’s leaving. Determined to make it on her own, Beverly finds a job and a place to live and tries to forget about her dog, Buddy, now buried underneath the orange trees back home; her friend Raymie, whom she left without a word; and her mom, Rhonda, who has never cared about anyone but herself. Beverly doesn’t want to depend on anyone, and she definitely doesn’t want anyone to depend on her. But despite her best efforts, she can’t help forming connections with the people around her — and gradually, she learns to see herself through their eyes. In a touching, funny, and fearless conclusion to her sequence of novels about the beloved Three Rancheros, #1 New York Times best-selling author Kate DiCamillo tells the story of a character who will break your heart and put it back together again.
About the Author
Date of Birth:March 25, 1964
Place of Birth:Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Education:B.A. in English, University of Florida at Gainesville, 1987
Read an Excerpt
Buddy died, and Beverly buried him, and then she set off toward Lake Clara. She went the back way, through the orange groves. When she cut out onto Palmetto Lane, she saw her cousin Joe Travis Joy standing out in front of his mother’s house.
Joe Travis was nineteen years old. He had red hair and a tiny little red beard and a red Camaro, and a job roofing houses in Tamaray Beach.
Beverly didn’t like him all that much.
“Hey,” said Joe Travis when he saw Beverly.
“I thought you moved to Tamaray,” said Beverly.
“I did. I’m visiting is all.”
“When are you going back?” she said.
“Now,” said Joe Travis.
Beverly thought, Buddy is dead — my dog is dead. They can’t make me stay. I’m not staying. No one can make me stay.
And so she left.
“What are you going to Tamaray for?” said Joe Travis. “You got friends there or something?”
They were in the red Camaro. They were on the highway.
Beverly didn’t answer Joe Travis. Instead, she stared at the green-haired troll hanging from the rearview mirror. She thought how the troll looked almost exactly like Joe Travis except that its hair was the wrong color and it didn’t have a beard. Also, it seemed friendlier.
Joe Travis said, “Do you like ZZ Top?”
“You want a cigarette?” said Joe Travis.
“No,” said Beverly.
“Suit yourself.” Joe Travis lit a cigarette, and Beverly rolled down the window.
“Hey,” said Joe Travis. “I got the AC on.”
Beverly leaned her face into the hot air coming through the open window. She said nothing.
They went the whole way to Tamaray Beach with one window down and the air-conditioning on full blast. Joe Travis smoked six cigarettes and ate one strip of beef jerky. In between the cigarettes and the beef jerky, he tapped his fingers on the steering wheel.
The little troll rocked back and forth — blown about by gusts of air-conditioning and wind, smiling an idiotic smile.
Why were trolls always smiling, anyway?
Every troll Beverly had ever seen had a gigantic smile plastered on its face for absolutely no good reason.
When they got to the city limits, Beverly said, “You can let me out anywhere.”
“Well, where are you headed?” said Joe Travis. “I’ll take you there.”
“I’m not going anywhere,” said Beverly. “Let me out.”
“You don’t got to be so secretive. Just tell me where you’re going and I’ll drop you off.”
“No,” said Beverly.
“Dang it!” said Joe Travis. He slapped his hand on the steering wheel. “You always did think that you was better than everybody else on God’s green earth.”
“No, I didn’t,” said Beverly.
“Same as your mother,” said Joe Travis.
“Ha,” said Beverly.
“You ain’t,” said Joe Travis. “Neither one of you is any better. You ain’t better at all. I don’t care how many beauty contests your mama won back in the day.” He stomped on the brakes. He pulled over to the side of the road.
“Get out,” said Joe Travis.
“Thanks for the ride,” said Beverly.
“Don’t you thank me,” said Joe Travis.
“Okay,” said Beverly. “Well, anyway — thanks.” She got out of the Camaro and slammed the door and started walking down A1A in the opposite direction of Joe Travis Joy.
It was hot.
It was August.
It was 1979.
Beverly Tapinski was fourteen years old.
She had run away from home plenty of times, but that was when she was just a kid.
It wasn’t running away this time, she figured. It was leaving.
She had left.
Beverly walked down the side of A1A. She had on an old pair of flip-flops, and it didn’t take long for her feet to start hurting. Cars went zooming past her, leaving behind hot gusts of metallic air.
She saw a sign with a pink seahorse painted on it. She stopped. She stared at the seahorse. He was smiling and chubby-cheeked. There were a lot of little bubbles coming out of his mouth, and then one big bubble that had the words seahorse court, an rv community written inside of it.
Past the sign, there was a ground-up seashell drive that led to a bunch of trailers. A woman was standing in front of a pink trailer holding a hose, spraying a sad bunch of flowers.
The woman raised her hand and waved. “Howdy, howdy!” she shouted.
“Right,” said Beverly. “Howdy.”
She started walking again. She looked down at her feet. “Howdy,” she said to them. “Howdy.”
She would get a job.
That’s what she would do.
How hard could it be to get a job? Joe Travis had done it.
After the Seahorse Court, there was a motel called the Seaside End and then there was a restaurant called Mr. C’s.
mr. c’s is your lunch spot! said the sign. we cook you all the fish in the c!
Beverly hated fish.
She walked across the blacktop parking lot. It was almost entirely empty. She went up to the restaurant and opened the door.
It was cool and dark inside. It smelled like grease. And also fish.
“Party of one?” said a girl with a lot of blond hair. She was wearing a name tag that said Welcome to Mr. C’s! I’m Freddie.
From somewhere in the darkness, off to the left, there came the ping and hum of a video game.
“I’m looking for a job,” said Beverly.
“Here?” said Freddie.
“Is there a job here?”
“Mr. Denby!” shouted Freddie. “Hey, someone out here wants a job. Who knows why.”
Beverly looked to the right, past Freddie. She could see a dining room with blue chairs and blue tablecloths, and a big window that looked out on the ocean. The brightness of the room, the blueness of it, hurt her eyes.
She remembered, suddenly, that Buddy was dead.
And then she wished she hadn’t remembered.