Rave Reviews Log: Realistic Fiction

July 29, 2009

Lucky Breaks

By Susan Patron
Rating: 3 3/4 stars

In this sequel to the award-winning The Higher Power of Lucky, Lucky is about to turn 11 and she feels like she's on the brink of something new. She also feels a bit annoyed by her best friend Lincoln, who is always constant and true and knotting some mysterious object. Besides, he is a BOY, and how can you be best friends with a BOY at the age of 11? Then Paloma, a girl just her age, eats at Brigitte's cafe, and the pair instantly bond. Can it be coincidence that Paloma has the same name as the woman in a tragic story who lost half of a beautiful brooch in one of the mining wells in the desert? Mustn't it be ordained to go looking for the other half of that brooch with Paloma? As Lucky approaches her birthday weekend, she finds growing older comes with some growing pains about who she is, who her friends are, and the need to face some uncomfortable emotions. It is definitely a pleasure to become reacquainted with Lucky and the residents of Hard Pan, and fans of the first book will be pleased.

July 20, 2009

Wild Things

By Clay Carmichael
Rating: 4 1/4 stars

Move over Gilly Hopkins, there's a new feisty orphan in town! Zoe has lived her entire life with a mother with mental illness and a long train of mostly worthless men who helped raise her. Rather than go to school, Zoe spent her time at the library reading and writing in her memoir in her notebook. Then her mother dies and an uncle she never knew she had surfaces and adopts Zoe. Her Uncle Henry is eccentric and grouchy--a doctor turned sculptor who is smarting after the death of his wife from cancer. Although Zoe is cautious about the money and time Henry is spending on her, she can't help beginning to get attached to Fred who helps caretake the house and his invalid wife Bessie, the Padre who runs the local church and Sheriff Beam. Zoe also discovers a wild cat hanging around the property and begins the painfully slow process of trying to tame him; a process that mirrors Zoe's own slow blossoming trust in her new life. Zoe keeps testing her limits stubbornly, trying to keep herself apart from that dangerous thing called love. But when she finds the old abandoned cabin in the woods, she will discover there are limits to her stubbornness and that the cabin has a secret that will surprise even a world-weary girl like herself. Although much of this story will be familiar to those who have read other orphan or foster kid tales, all of the characters are multi-dimensional and well-drawn and readers will be immediately identify with Zoe and all of the people she meets. Zoe is not the only wild thing in the title and readers will delight in meeting all of the other wild things that come into Zoe's world.