Review Detail

Lucy in the Sky with Problems
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A
Lucy lives with her supportive grandmother, and frequently sees her uncle, who is young, fun, and a bit misguided. Lucy has been homeschooled, but her grandmother decides that it is time for Lucy to acquire the social skills that middle school will provide. Why? Lucy was struck by lightning when she was young, and because of the resultant brain damage is now a mathematical savant but also suffers from OCD and social anxiety. Her grandmother's idea of sticking things out for one year and making one friend seems all but impossible, since Lucy can't even sit in a chair without repeating the action three times. Lucy is socially savvy enough to realize that her mathematical abilities will not win her any friends, and she tries very hard to do just enough to get A- grades, but an early attempt puts her on her teacher's radar for cheating with a boy named Levi. Levi struggles in math, but is accepting of Lucy and her quirks. When the class has to participate in a social service project-- in a group-- Lucy is not sure how she will do. Luckily, she and Levi are able to work together, along with Windy, to help out a local pet rescue, Pet Hut. Lucy runs the numbers and works out a formula she can use to tell which dogs will take longer to be adopted, so that those dogs can be featured on the web site. In the meantime, her grandmother is considering enrolling her in a school for the gifted, and of course, nothing in Lucy's life runs smoothly. Her friendship with Windy is a good one, until Windy's past friendship with mean girl Maddie complicates things. Will Lucy be able to survive middle school?
Good Points
This had an excellent balance of unusual and usual middle school challenges. Readers who enjoy problems novels because they make their own lives seem better will find Lucy's OCD and social difficulty interesting, while the problems with group projects and friends will appeal to everyone. Lucy's grandmother was wonderfully supportive and no-nonsense, and her attitude contributes greatly to Lucy's resilience. Lucy's problems are not downplayed, but are handled in a realistic way. The pet rescue story line was intriguing, and Lucy's talents in math actually are very valuable to the organization-- I think Lucy may have a really good career ahead of her as an actuary!

There are a growing number of middle grade novels about children with a variety of mental health concerns, and this is a great addition to that collection. Reader's who learned more about OCD in Schwartz's Finding Perfect, Tashjian's Multiple Choice, and Rompella's Cookie Cutters and Sled Runners, or readers who were intrigued by the challenges faced by characters in Baskin's ANything But Typical or O'Reilly's The notations of Cooper Cameron will be intrigued to investigae Lucy's coping mechanisms.
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