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Review of The Three Lucys

charara_three lucysThe Three Lucys
by Hayan Charara; illus. by Sara Kahn
Primary    Lee & Low    40 pp.
9/16    978-1-60060-998-5    $18.95    g

Lebanese boy Luli loves his three cats: Lucy the Fat, Lucy the Skinny, and Lucy Lucy. Excited for his family’s annual weekend visit to his aunt Layla and uncle Adel’s house in Beirut, Luli sets out enough food and water to last the three Lucys a while. But as he and his parents are traveling back home, they hear a “scream in the sky” and see a “fiery flash [of] light” as their hometown is bombed. Returning to his aunt and uncle’s and hiding in their basement during the night as the bombs move toward Beirut, Luli is worried about his Lucys. When the bombings stop after thirty-four days, Luli and his parents return home to see lives and landscapes destroyed by the bombs (although, amazingly, their own house still stands). Anxiously calling out for the Lucys, Luli is heartbroken when only Lucy the Fat and Lucy the Skinny come. Grieving for Lucy Lucy, he eventually grows to accept her disappearance and implied death, taking comfort in memories. Kahn’s soft watercolor illustrations move between warm oranges and cool blues to reflect Luli’s feelings of love and fear. An author’s note reveals that Charara was inspired by his own family’s experience in 2006 during what the Lebanese term the July War (with Israel). Luli’s story is a quiet and hopeful exploration of conflict, grief, and healing.

From the September/October 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

About Kazia Berkley-Cramer

Kazia Berkley-Cramer is a former editorial intern at The Horn Book.

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