Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Higher Power of Lucky

by Susan Patron

Much, both wonderful and silly, has been said about this Newbery Medal Winner. I would like to tell you what it is really about, as it is indeed a lovely, uplifting and unforgettable read.

Life is grand, and it is hard in turn, and often it’s just about a “lighting strike of luck”-- of the good kind or the bad. 10 year-old Lucky has had a lot of the bad kind, as have the other residents of Hard Pan, California who are valiantly putting their broken lives back together amidst the dusty desert landscape of this novel.

But charming Lucky has something that even the most privileged children need to be happy, and what the current parenting research so harshly shows they lack--resilience. Lucky, an inquisitive young natural scientist, bug collector and a fan of Darwin is struggling with the death of her mother, her love for and longing to be adopted by her guardian, Brigitte, and her sometimes fun, sometimes draining role as a friend to the other children of her town.

But, Lucky at 10 knows already what to do if she starts to “lose heart”, “her favorite sad but exquisite phrase.” She can get out a beautiful, never-used toothbrush from her ever-present survival backpack and make herself feel better. A person, who knows how to help herself bounce back like that, with small joys, will find a way to happiness and those around her will glow.

Patron’s gorgeous, textured novel, is deceptively simple in its language and entirely appropriate for youth 10 and above who may or may not have been thus fortunate. Lucky’s strength will stay with you. I promise.

Reviewed by Vivian

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