Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron

I can see why The Higher Power of Lucky won the Newbery Medal although when I pulled the audiobook off the shelf at Indian River Lib. I did not know the book had been honored by any group. I put the first CD in and I must have listened to it twice before I really heard the beginning of the story. (What can I say; it was finals week and my brain was mushier than usual.)

I heard the French accent used for Lucky’s guardian, Brigitte, and I heard the part about Lucky eavesdropping on an anonymous meeting (Lucky works at the Hard Pan’s Found Object Wind Chime Museum and Visitor Center where alcoholics, gamblers, smokers, and overeaters have their respective anonymous meetings) where Short Sammy describes when he knew he had hit rock bottom.

When Z got into the car, he started listening too. He said what I was already thinking, “Nice French accent.” (We may be poor judges of French accents: He only having 3 years of French and I having only one.)

But it’s not the French accent that made us want to listen. We were interested in the main character and the colorful people in her life:

Her guardian, Brigitte (Bree-JEET), left Paris to come to a small town to take care of her ex-husband’s daughter by another woman?

Short Sammy was so drunk he watched as his dog was bit in the scrotum by a rattlesnake?

Lincoln is likely to be a future president and faithful member of the International Guild of Knot Tyers?

Miles goes from house to house to mooch cookies off his neighbors?

Who are these people, I wondered. Why do they seem strangely familiar? I finally realize they remind me of characters Angela Johnson created in books like Heaven.

I like the story because the kids come from families that rarely appear in books. They are poor. They are motherless and fatherless, and they do not know when someone else they love is going to walk away with their hearts. But they have guardians and neighbors who love them.