Laurinda’s Rating: 3/5
In the 2007 Newbery Medal Winner The Higher Power of Lucky, a girl who lost her mother searches for her Higher Power, a term garnered from time eavesdropping on 12 step meetings of various flavors.
Lucky is growing up in a tiny desert town when her mother touches a downed power line after a storm and dies. Rather than taking responsibility for Lucky, her deadbeat dad imports his ex-wife Brigitte from France to care for Lucky “temporarily”. The book follows Lucky’s daily life. Lincoln, obsessed with knot tying, and Miles, 5-years-old and mildly annoying, are Lucky’s sidekicks. When home, Lucky both sympathizes with Brigitte’s homesickness and engages in annoying behaviors like processing her bug samples on the kitchen table. She fears abandonment and watches Brigitte carefully for signs that it’s coming. One day, Lucky finds Brigitte’s passport and other documents sitting out on a suitcase and assumes that Brigitte is leaving her.
Lucky, trying to take control of her own life, decides to preemptively run away. She chooses the day of a sandstorm. Miles cuts short her flight when she finds him curled up by the side of the road in the storm. Lincoln finds them both in the old caves shortly thereafter. In an interesting twist, Lucky is finally able to release her mother’s ashes into the air when the entirety of the town comes to rescue the kids; she also finds out that Brigitte had the documents out because she was preparing to formally adopt Lucky.
This story wasn’t particularly engaging. Neither the character nor the stories grabbed me. Lucky is a quirky narrator, who dreams of being a scientist and using her talents to attract people to town. However, I found her pretty boring, with a side of mildly annoying. Part of this is likely the grade level – this is aimed at grades 3-5 , with a corresponding lack of subtlety. Everything about the book was average – the adventure barely threatened the kids, there was one bout of tears but not much engagement with feelings, and the home life wasn’t rich enough to bump the book into the “cozy” category.
Overall, I’m hard pressed to identify an audience to whom this would appeal. Perhaps younger readers who enjoy ordinary characters? There are a few fun episodes, including snakes in the dryer, but yeah. Not much that I loved.