Friday, May 1, 2009

and to round out a tragedy binge, the following titles

I actually read The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron right before I read Gayle Forman's If I stay. It won the 2006 Newbery Medal, and even some controversy over the use of the word scrotum on page one of this middle grade novel. I'm probably the last kid's bookseller in the world to read it, and of course, I loved it. Lucky is a little girl living with her guardian, Brigitte. Lucky's father is MIA and her mother passed away in a freak electrical accident. As Lucky starts to come to grips with what has happened to her mother, she also begins to fully appreciate the relationship she has with Brigitte. When she mistakenly comes to think that Brigitte is planning to leave her, Lucky panics. She hits her own rock bottom when she takes her anger out on Miles, a much younger boy she's friends with. Ultimately, Lucky is able to finally fully grasp what she has lost in her life, but also what she has gained. Simply written, and surprisingly funny in turns, The Higher Power of Lucky was everything that a Newbery winner should be. I was especially fond of Lucky's best friend and maybe crush Lincoln, who is the best knot-artist Lucky has ever met.
I'd been trying to get into one post apocalyptic novel and one urban fantasy novel with little to no luck when I decided to raid the advanced reader copy shelves at work. I picked up 10, and decided to read the first chapter of all of them, just to get a sense of either what I wanted to read, or what I wanted to give to kid reviewers. I found debut author Suzanne LaFleur's Love, Aubrey in the pile, and read it all in one night. Tonight, actually. I read the first chapter, same as the rest, but as soon as I tried to go back to my preexisting reading, all I was thinking about was this little girl. When the novel opens, Aubrey has been abandoned by her mother. Her grandmother quickly arrives on the scene, and moves Aubrey up to Vermont so that she can take care of her. Neither know where Aubrey's mother has gone, but Gram takes care of Aubrey as she slowly moves through the grieving process. The reader learns that Aubrey has lost both her little sister, Savannah and her father in a car accident. Because she was driving, Aubrey's mother feels responsible, and the pain of it cripples her. As Aubrey comes to grip with the pain in her life, she also begins to learn how to trust people again. Absorbing storytelling, and a very authentic kid's narrative voice made for an incredible emotional read. Like If I Stay, Love Aubrey moves elegantly between the present time of the story, and flashbacks to Aubrey's life before the accident, and before her mother abandoned her. In the end, I found myself so attached to Aubrey that I actually felt proud of her, and the way she handles her choices. From Random House Children's Books, Love, Aubrey comes out in hardback June 9.

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