This is pretty much a perfect book. It’s hard to believe this was a debut novel. I can’t think of a single thing I would have any differently. It has the tightness of a poem; it doesn’t feel like there is a single extraneous sentence or unnecessary word in the whole text. The characters are so great, and it is such a great example of a community being brought together through friendship and love that I could take it to church, or it takes me to church, or something. It makes me want to be nicer to other people in real life, and maybe even on the Internet too. (We will see how long that impulse lasts.)
Craft-wise, I think there must have been some intense editing going on here to allow so much to come across with so little. It would not entirely surprise me to hear that this book was originally drafted twice as long as it ended up published. But ultimately I think this story was also told with a lot of love, and that might truly be the secret, so it would also not surprise me to find out that some or all of it was cranked out in a single draft almost as-is. Now that I think more about this, I believe I will need to do some research into DiCamillo’s writing methods.
So, this book succeeds for me on pretty much every level possible: artistically, emotionally, and spiritually. Plus, it is pretty funny. In other words, I liked it. I don’t know if any of her other books (which I’ve already read) will better this one, but that’s okay. I’ll still be re-exploring them.
[First book read as part of my Kate DiCamillo Author Reading Challenge (in connection with my Newbery+Authors+Classics Reading Challenge), and the only major book by DiCamillo that I had not read before.]