Friday, May 20, 2011

Backlist files - "Lucky Breaks"

I’ll admit to not being much of a fan of Susan Patron’s Newbery winning The Higher Power of Lucky.  It wasn’t that I disliked the book, but simply looked at it after its win and said, “What’s special?  What’s distinguished?”  As a librarian, I see the book sit on the shelf mostly, occasionally checked out by teachers or college students.  For these reasons, I wasn’t in a hurry to pick up the sequel, Lucky Breaks.  But a recent challenge I set myself found me picking it up and giving it a try.

Lucky Trimble, on the verge of turning eleven, is back, still eager to solve the mysteries of life, the universe and everything, with her adopted mother Brigitte(she from France) and her best friend Lincoln (he of the endless knot-tying).  Lucky makes friends with a weekend visitor to Hard Pan, Paloma, and finds herself wondering what it would be like to have a girl best friend.  A risky adventure on the day of her birthday party puts Lucky between a rock and a hard place, and the presents her biggest challenge yet: having faith in her friends.

There’s not really much plot to speak of in Lucky Breaks, but a series of happenings that converge upon the climactic accident.  It rides mostly on the coattails of its characters, depending on their cuteness, their cleverness.  The problem is, Lucky, as a main character, is just a little too cute and too clever.  Her balance teeters between girlish fits of uncontrollable giggles with Paloma and facts that compare her life with her hero, Charles Darwin.  To me, she’s an unreal child, more that adult perception of a precocious, interesting child than a flesh and blood possibility.  There’s little truth to be found in this little book, though it is entertaining to a point.  I think if suffers most from trying to live up to its Newbery wining predecessor.  There’s too much trying to be important, too little trying to make the important pieces fit.  Here’s hoping Patron can pull things together for a respectable finish to this proposed trilogy.

Lucky Breaks by Susan Patron
2009, Ginee Seo Books
Library copy

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