Raymie's father ran away with his dental hygienist, but Raymie is convinced if she can win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition, her father will be so impressed he will come back. She also believes in order to win the competition, she must learn to twirl a baton. When she goes to her first baton twirling lesson she meets two other girls whose lives are just as messed up as hers, Louisiana and Beverly. Although the three couldn't be more different, they form a bond and give each other the emotional support they are not getting from their families.
Although I have liked a lot of Kate DiCamillo's other books, this one just didn't do it for me. I thought that Raymie and Beverly where realistic characters but I never thought Louisiana was a real person. She was just too far out there, and I didn't feel like she responded to certain situations the way a real 12-year-old girl would respond. My opinion on that character might be tainted by how the narrator of the audio book performed her, and I might have liked the book better if I had read it instead of listening to it. This book has received plenty of starred reviews and may be in the running for Newbery consideration. (272 p)