cover image The Higher Power of Lucky

The Higher Power of Lucky

Susan Patron. Atheneum/Jackson, $16.95 (134pp) ISBN 978-1-4169-0194-5

Patron's (Maybe Yes, Maybe No, Maybe Maybe) often poignant novel introduces 10-year-old Lucky, who lives in the California desert town of Hard Pan. After her mother died, Lucky's estranged father asked his former first wife, Brigitte, to travel from France and act as Lucky's guardian. The author's third-person narrative gently adheres to a child's perspective and reveals the warm relationship between Lucky and Brigitte. As the heroine goes about her work at the Found Object Wind Chime Museum and Visitor Center, she eavesdrops on the meetings of various 12-step programs held there, listening to ""the anonymous people"" talk about hitting rock bottom and then gaining control of their lives through a Higher Power. If she could find her own Higher Power, Lucky feels ""pretty sure she'd be able to figure out the difference between the things she could change and the things she couldn't."" One thing she hopes will not change is her life with Brigitte, whom she fears will return to her much-missed homeland and leave Lucky with a foster family. Through her search for an HP, Lucky makes a few discoveries-such as the true identity of ""the crematory man,"" who handed her an urn bearing her mother's ashes at the funeral, and the hidden talents of her knot-tying friend Lincoln. When Lucky hits her ""rock bottom,"" she decides to run away with her beloved dog during a dust storm, a risky move that leads to an uplifting denouement. Though Lucky's ponderings sometimes grow repetitive, the sympathetic, pleasingly quirky characters define this tightly-knit hardscrabble community, affectionately portrayed in Phelan's half-tone illustrations. Ages 9-11.