The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan PatronReviewed by Jennifer
2007 Newbery Medal Winner
Adult Themes: Lucky eavesdrops on AA meetings. She hears stories about individuals drinking excessively and hitting rock bottom. A dog is bitten on the scrotum by a rattlesnake. There is a little discussion about just what Lucky thinks a scrotum is. Lucky’s mother died in a strange accident and Lucky doesn’t know her father at all. She lives with her guardian, Bridgette, and Lucky worries that Bridget will abandon her. Lucky finds out that Miles’s mother is in jail. She tells Miles, and the news upsets him.
Lucky is a 10-year-old budding scientist, survivalist and eavesdropper living Hard Pan, California, population 43. Lucky is fearless in many ways, but because of her mother’s accident, she knows that things can go wrong in a hurry. The survival kit she carries everywhere helps her feel better prepared for whatever life might throw at her, but she also understands that it can only help so much. Right now, Lucky is worried that Bridgette, her guardian, will return to France and abandon her. Nothing in the survival kit can prevent that, but after listening in on many AA meetings, Lucky feels certain that if she can find her higher power, the inner strength that will help her overcome her difficulties, she will find a way to make Bridgette stay put in Hard Pan.
I liked this book! Lucky reminded me a little of Ramona Quimby, a family favorite, with her unkempt individualism. I thought Susan Patron captured an extra special character in Miles, the woebegone 5-year-old whose mother is in prison and who has Are You My Mother? memorized. Both Lucky and Miles are in need of a mother and although he irritates Lucky quite severely, she can’t help but love him. Lucky is not always kind or smart in her decisions, but she tries, and she does a pretty good job of putting everything back together in the end.
I enjoyed Patron’s writing, especially the following description of the effect a beautiful dress can have on a girl.
“It turned her into someone else, someone beautiful and sophisticated, who could make a dessert that had flames coming out of it on purpose. Her regular clothes were faded from many washings and from the sun, but the redness of this dress was the same thing for yours eyes as a sonic boom is for your ears, or a jalapeno pepper is for your mouth.”
Recommended for grades 4-7.