Over the weekend, I finished LUCKY BREAKS, the sequel to HIGHER POWER OF LUCKY, by Susan Patron. If I had to sum the book up in one sentence, I think I'd say, "It's an absolutely perfect book for an eleven-year-old." The book opens with a celebration of age eleven.
"Eleven, Lucky thought from her seat at the back of the school bus, eleven, eleven, eleven, and the idea of it, the sound of it, threw off sparks in her head. You start with one, two, three: those clunky one-syllable beginner-ages that toddlers play with. Keep going and you get to eight, nine, ten: the plodding steps you have to climb until at last, you arrive. Finally, finally you reach the best age, the one that, when you say it out loud, sounds like a little tap dance or a drumroll." (p. 1). (NOTE: This is just the first paragraph, there is actually another one that is equally beautifully written).
Lucky is turning 11, and she desperately wants her eleventh year to be something special. The problem is, there is not a whole lot special going on in the town of Hard Pan. Her mother, Brigitte, is still running her little weekend cafe. Her best friend, Lincoln, is still tying knots. Miles, the resident five-year-old genius is making his way through BRAIN SURGERY FOR BEGINNERS. Everything is very ordinary until Paloma, another eleven-year-old girl, visits Hard Pan with a group of geologists. Lucky suddenly realizes that what she really wants, maybe even needs, is an eleven-year-old best friend that's a girl.
This is a book about the quirkiness of families and living in community. It's a book about friendship, and about how friends, even good friends, sometimes have problems, and how they solve them, and forgive each other, and move on. It's a book about stupid, and yeah, even dangerous choices. LUCKY BREAKS is an absolutely perfect book for an eleven-year-old.