When Lucy was eight years old, she was struck by lightning while holding on to a metal fence. As a result, she has acquired savant syndrome; Lucy can not only tackle any mathematical problem but she can also see math in colors and remembers every set of numbers she hears or sees. It is no surprise that Pi is favorite number (and she can recite it to the 314th decimal place).
Having this rare condition is not without its drawbacks. Lucy has obsessive compulsive tendencies, no offline friends, and hasn’t left the apartment she shared with her Nana for 32 days. While Lucy wants to begin college, Nana proposes an alternate plan. Go to middle school for at least 1 year. Make 1 friend. Join 1 activity. Read 1 book that is not math related. Nana wins.
Lucy accomplishes her first goal quickly. On her first bus ride to school, she becomes friends with socially conscious Windy. But adjusting to middle school is still tough especially because of Lucy’s constant need to sanitize, her repetitive sitting behavior, and her desire to keep her giftedness hidden from her peers including Windy. A group service project with Windy and budding photographer Levi gives Lucy the opportunity to use her math genius for a good cause-helping dogs gets adopted at a local shelter. At the shelter, Lucy meets Cutie Pi, a beagle mix (Yes, you heard it, a beagle!) with a lightning bolt spot on its back and is determined to find him a home. Being a dog mom, seeing Lucy’s affection for Pi was heartwarming. Her relationship with Pi was one of my favorite parts of the story.
Lucy soon learns that all things are not easy to calculate. As a reader, I calculate a few important lessons from this must read middle grade novel.
- Sometimes numbers aren’t all that matters.
- No problem is unsolvable.
- If you have a couple of friends who accept you for who you are, you are pretty lucky.
The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl is a touching and engaging story about fitting in, finding yourself and most of all, friendship. I already pre-ordered and look forward to its release so that I can share with students. Special thanks to Allison Stout, a fellow #bookexcursion member for sharing an ARC that she received at NCTE. It will publish on May 1, 2018.