Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty

Being struck by lightning turned Lucy into a math savant.  She can solve any math problem put before her, even things that stump geniuses.  Her grandmother has been homeschooling her since then and Lucy has passed enough classes that she can now apply for college at age 12.  But then Lucy's grandmother springs a surprise on her: she's going to go to middle school, at least for one year.  Although she is active in an online room for math fanatics, Lucy doesn't have any experience with real people other than her grandmother and uncle so this will be a real test!  Step one is to make sure no one knows about her math abilities.

I met this author why she was touring to promote the book and she is delightful and a mathematician herself before deciding to write so that gives a lot of street cred to this story.  Lucy's journey into middle school is not all that different from many other "oddball going to school" stories out there but it has its own charms within a somewhat common trope.  Lucy herself is a nice character who, despite being a genius in many ways, is still very much a youngish middle school girl with appropriate worries about fitting in.  As she starts to make friends (or frenemies?) she encounters the same problems we all did in middle school so that will resonate with my teen readers.  Lucy's new friends are quirky themselves but not in a staged way and the development of their relationships is realistic.  Even the crisis with the dog is not over the top or too disturbing.  However, I will say that the ending is pretty pat and neat. I enjoyed it, but I was aware of how much it tied up so that was a distraction from getting all wrapped up in the story.

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