Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Middle-Grade Review: Lucky for Good

I adored Susan Patron’s first two Hard Pan trilogy novels, The Higher Power of Lucky and Lucky Breaks. I recently read the final novel featuring endearing eleven-year old Lucky, Lucky for Good, and enjoyed the heart-warming story just as much as the first two novels.

 Lucky lives in tiny Hard Pan, nestled among mountains in a remote California desert, with her adoptive mother, Brigitte, who runs the Hard Pan Café. She is happy there, among the other quirky but lovable residents of her town. Lucky now feels confident in her place among them and with Brigitte, but new questions keep popping up in her life. She wonders about the father who abandoned her and about her friend Miles’ mother who’s been recently released from prison. She’s worried about the café’s recent visit from the health department and about a middle-school boy visiting town who is sullen and mean. And when Lucky is assigned a family tree for school, she wonders how on earth she will ever find any information at all about her biological family.

As in previous Hard Pan novels, the town’s residents come together to help solve some of these problems and Lucky leans on her friends and on Brigitte to help with others. Lucky does some growing up in this novel, learning some important lessons about both friends and family along the way and even discovering a new relative.

All of the Hard Pan novels featuring Lucky are warm, funny, and intelligent, and this one is no exception. There is nothing frightening or depressing here, but Patron doesn’t shy from serious issues. In this last novel, Lucky struggles with the definition of family, feeling abandoned by her father, and even the controversy between devote Christian Creationists and the concept of evolution. As always, Lucky’s story is told in a gentle and clever way. These novels have more intelligence and emotional depth than many middle-grade books but are always heart-warming and affirmative. I will miss reading about Lucky and the rest of the Hard Pan residents!

203 pages, Atheneum (Simon & Schuster)


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