Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Half A Chance

Half A Chance

Spring 2014 Fiction
Ages: 8 - 12 yrs.
Author: Cynthia Lord
Publisher: Scholastic
ISBN: 978-0545035330
Hardcover Price: $16.99

Lucy is tired of moving every time her wayward photographer father gets restless for new scenery. But when she begins unpacking the latest house, on a lake in New Hampshire, she is surprised and pleased to find that her new next-door neighbor Nate and his family are eager to absorb her into their summer routines of watching the loons on the lake and keeping track of their activities. Lucy can't help but notice a few tensions in this summer idyll, however; Nate's friend Megan doesn't seem very happy about Lucy's arrival, and even more seriously, Nate's Grandma Lilah struggles increasingly with disorientation and confusion. In addition, Lucy has some problems of her own. She desperately wants to prove her photography abilities to her father by winning a youth photography contest, and Nate agrees to help her find interesting subjects. But when Lucy photographs the most interesting subject of all—Grandma Lilah—she upsets Nate, and finds she must choose between her belief in the power of honest art and her desire for friendship.

This lovely novel draws readers in with an appealing story of a lonely girl who simultaneously longs for peer acceptance and for the recognition of a parent. Lucy's narration is believable, humorous, and beautifully reflective, encouraging readers to notice the small moments of wonder around them, both in their natural surroundings and in the humans in their lives. The secondary characters are less well developed, but Grandma Lilah's complex family dynamic comes through vividly, and the loon family on the lake are unexpectedly compelling as non-human characters. This novel is a fine read for the summer—or for all year round.

Naomi Lesley   ©2014 Parents' Choice
Naomi Lesley taught middle and high school English for six years. She is currently in a doctoral program at the George Washington University, focusing on American young adult literature.

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