Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2008. 978-1416975571
Winner of the 1997 John Newbery Medal
Synopsis: Ten-year-old Lucky wishes she could find her Higher Power, like the people in the twelve-step program meetings on which she eavesdrops. But when you live in the small desert town of Hard Pan, CA, Pop. 43, there’s not much of a chance of finding your Higher Power…unless you hit rock-bottom. As Lucky reaches rock-bottom and begins plans to run away from Hard Pan, she starts to understand that rock-bottom might just be another way to start over fresh.
Why I picked it up: It popped up in the Amazon Recommendations and I was intrigued by Lucky’s desire to hit rock-bottom.
Why I finished it: Lucky is a remarkable character because of her belief that she has to go down to go up. While this might not be true for most everyone, Lucky shows us that there is hope to be found even when your situation seems to be getting more and more dire…well, dire by ten-year-old standards. Haunted by the threatened departure of her Guardian and the fear of losing her dog HMS Beagle, Lucky’s carefully constructed life slowly begins to crumble and not even her friends Miles and Lincoln can convince her to stay in Hard Pan. But if it means that she can find her Higher Power, it will all be worth it…won’t it? It’s hard not to admire Lucky’s pluck, love, and determination to reach a place in which she feels like she has some control over her destiny and has a feeling of what it is she is meant to do. Phelan’s black-and-white sketches add another layer of realism to the story and aid the reader in visualizing the setting and the characters. There’s something to be said for their simplicity as well; it beautifully compliments Lucky’s struggles to get back on top and back in control of her life and get answers to the questions tucked deep in the crevices of her brain glands. A sweet and touching beginning to a deeply moving trilogy that makes us remember the hardships of growing up.
Other related materials: Lucky Breaks by Susan Patron, illustrations by Matt Phelan; Lucky for Good by Susan Patron, illustrations by Erin McGuire; Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse; The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg; Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech; The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly; Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpoool; A Long Way From Chicago by Richard Peck; A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck; Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos; Everything on a Waffle by Polly Horvath; Missing May by Cynthia Rylant; Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai; One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia; Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins; All Alone in the Universe by Lynne Rae Perkins; Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson; Page by Paige by Laura Lee Gulledge