Two days ago, Raymie Clarke's father left her and her mother for a dental hygienist. Raymie's life is upside down, but she has a plan. She will enter to win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition, that way her father will see her picture in the news papers and maybe, just maybe, come home. However, this task is much easier said than done. Not only does she have to do good deeds and learn to twirl a baton, but she also has to compete against Louisiana Elefante, who has a show-business background, and Beverly Tapinsky, who's determined to sabotage the contest as an act of rebellion. In an incredible summer adventure, the three girls learn to navigate the rocky journey of life, the unanswerable questions of growing up and discover the best cure for loneliness and lost – in each other.
Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo is a modern coming of age novel set in Central Florida. DiCamillo seamlessly weaves allusions to Florence Nightingale, fairy tales and historical aspects of the region into the tale, resulting as to deepening the insightfulness of her novel. Her characters Raymie, Beverly and Louisiana are foils of one another, although they are all young, innocent, true and relatable. Their strength in the face of hardships and their support for one another made this novel a memorable read.
I give this book a 3.75 out of 5 stars and would recommend to readers looking for a more serious contemporary novel. DiCamillo's wonderfully crafted novel is a tale where every reader will understand the themes, symbols and motifs from a different perspective. Although the lasting messages are bittersweet, they encompass and capture well the lessons life teaches you through one's journey of growing up.
This novel is recommended for reader ages 10 and up.