The Higher Power of Lucky, by Susan Patron

The Higher Power of Lucky. By Susan Patron. Illustrated by Matt Phelan. Simon & Schuster, 2006.  144 pages. $16.95

Plot: Lucky’s name doesn’t seem to fit.  Her mother died when she was 8; her father is alive, but she’s never met him, and she lives in the hot, dry desert town of Hard Pan, CA, population 43.  But, in some ways, 10-year-old Lucky makes her own luck.  She loves her small town and the people in it; her best friend, Lincoln, is a great companion, even if he is completely obsessed with tying knots every waking moment. Lucky is adventurous and curious.  She explores the desert and collects bug specimens, as she’s going to be a scientist when she grows up.  She also eavesdrops on the “Anonymous”  meetings and wonders what her “higher power” is.  She lives with Brigitte, her guardian, a French woman who was married to Lucky’s father before Lucky’s mom.  Brigitte is caring and kind, and Lucky wonders if Brigitte will ever stop missing France. Lucky misses her mom, and worries that Brigitte, whom she has grown quite fond of, will leave her and return to France.  Using what she thinks are sure signs that she should go forward, Lucky takes matters into her own hands, and comes up with a dramatic plan.

Review: Charming and enchanting, Lucky is a character we’d all like to know.  She’s adventurous, smart, and thoughtful, but she’s got more depth than that.  No one is perfect, and neither is Lucky, every once in a while her “meanness gland” comes to life, especially when Miles asks her to read Are You My Mother? for the thousandth time.  Perhaps it is this lack of perfection that makes The Higher Power of Lucky so compelling.  The writing is clear and easy to read, the story is intriguing and touching, the characters are interesting and complex.  Soft and sweet, small black and white drawings appear every so often to illustrate a moment or an important item.  Lucky is ten, so this book would be perfect for younger tweens eight to ten, however, the story has appeal enough for even older tweens, if they don’t mind reading about a spunky, independent ten-year-old.

Fun Fact for MLIS Students: The author is a librarian!

Genre(s): Realistic Fiction, Adventure

Reading/Interest Level: 8-12 years

Available in: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook, Audiobook

ISBN: 9781416901945

Similar books: Lucky Breaks (sequel), Criss Cross, When You Reach Me, Maniac McGee

Subjects: death of a parent, friendship, love

Selected Awards: 2007 Newberry Medal Winner, 2006 ALA Notable Children’s Book

Character Names

Lucky: main character, 10-year-old whose mother died when she was 8, adventurous, curious, afraid of being abandoned again

Brigitte: Lucky’s guardian, a French woman who agreed to take care of Lucky when Lucky’s mother died

Lincoln: Lucky’s best friend, an expert in knot tying

Miles: Lucky’s 5-year-old companion who lives with his grandmother, and loves the book Are You My Mother?

Check out The Higher Power of Lucky Book Trailer here.

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