Half a Chance
by Cynthia Lord
Intermediate Scholastic 218 pp.
3/14 978-0-545-03533-0 $16.99
e-book ed. 978-0-545-62083-3 $16.99
When twelve-year-old Lucy enters a photography contest, she must decide whether or not to send in her very best photo — a picture of her new friend Nate’s grandmother, whose life has become punctuated with moments of dementia and confusion. Nate is horrified by his grandmother’s panicked expression in Lucy’s photo, but Lucy knows it’s an amazing picture that could likely help her win; plus, she plans to use the prize money to help Grandma Lilah. (She wants to rent a pontoon boat to take the elderly woman out onto the lake to see her beloved loons.) To add to Lucy’s ethical quandaries, Nate has agreed to let her enter the competition using his name — the contest judge happens to be Lucy’s famous-photographer dad. Lord’s New Hampshire lake setting is conveyed through plenty of concrete details, as are Lucy’s concerns about moving there (it’s her family’s third move) and making new friends (“Practice…made it familiar…Never easy”). Most heartfelt is Lucy’s constant need to please her often-absent father—she’s a gifted photographer but always hears her dad’s voice in her head, pointing out why her pictures aren’t good enough. Though the book’s messages about friendship, absence, and death aren’t subtle, the story is moving, and readers will find themselves caught up in sensitive Lucy’s honest and thoughtful narration.