What's so great about it? It's funny, heart wrenching, quirky, and hard to put down. It feels both incredibly modern.... and simultaneously timeless. I don't feel like this book could have been written twenty years ago because of the contemporary feel of it.... but I also think I could pick it up in twenty (or sixty) years and enjoy it as much as I do now.
The characters are so achingly well described, and are all so imperfect and.... human. The location is so vivid and detailed that when I read this book, I feel like I'm sweltering in the heat in Hard Pan waiting for my shipment of government food to arrive.
One of my favorite things in the book is the last page... the author's note to the reader. Susan Patron is a librarian, after all, and she tells you just where to find the website for the International Guild of Knot Tyers, the bibliographic information for Are You My Mother?, etc.
Actually, this is probably my second favorite thing.... because my favorite is really Chapter 22 "bonne nuit" which is... a perfect chapter.
The first time I read The Higher Power of Lucky it was very very quickly. I was taking an advanced seminar in children's literature in library school... and the semester started 2 days after the ALA awards were announced. Our professor had scheduled members of this year's Newbery and Siebert committees to talk to us- which was fantastic... but they were scheduled for three weeks from the first day of class. Which meant everyone in my class had to read all the Newbery, Siebert and Caldecott medalists and honor books in the next three weeks. The reading was no problem, but tracking them all down when they had just become the most popular books in the country overnight.... well, that was a problem. (Example, the day before The Higher Power of Lucky won the Newbery it was ranked over #700,000 on Amazon's bestseller list.... the day it won it was ranked #4.) The Higher Power of Lucky was the hardest of all the books to find because its initial printing had been fairly small, and it had been published fairly recently. My professor had a copy, which my class passed around like contraband... I think I had under 24 hours to read it before I had to give it to another classmate.
And, sigh.... after all that... the class session where we were going to talk about the book got cancelled due to snow. Fortunately, one of my classmates did her term paper on 50 years of books about 10 year old girls (and how Lucky compared to her 10 year old predecessors)... so we did get to discuss the book after all.
And now I have a copy all my own (autographed, no less!) so I can enjoy the book over and over.
I'll have to get a second copy to lend out.
Her speech at the Newbery banquet was beautiful, funny, heart wrenching... just like her book.... see my earlier post about the banquet.
In the precious thirty seconds I got to talk to author Susan Patron while she was signing my book at the ALA conference, I learned the following things:
- She is a joy to talk to.
- She REALLY likes it when you mention her other books published before Lucky (although she loves to hear about Lucky too.)
- It was surreal for her to be at the ALA conference as a Famous Author, instead of as a conference attendee.
- Yes, she does speak French.
- You can get a parsley grinder on Ebay for $4.