In early September, Bookmarks hosted their 15th Festival of Books and Authors. I was excited to see that Renee Watson would speak at the festival, promoting her new book, Some Places More Than Others.
I am a fan of Watson’s work after first reading Piecing Me Together. Watson’s novel won that year’s Coretta Scott King award from the American Library Association. So I was thrilled for the chance to meet Watson and read her new novel.
Watson spoke at the festival event called “middle school stinks,” which also featured Kernersville author Stacy McAnulty. McAnulty was engaging, funny, and relatable. She was there to promote her newest book, The World Ends in April, but I decided to start with an earlier novel, The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl.
Lucy is an unusual girl. Everyone is unusual, of course, but Lucy was struck by lightning when she was younger, and woke up with genius math abilities and interests. Lightning Girl. She lives with her grandmother and has home schooled herself for the last several years. She has completed high school and aced the college entrance standardized tests. (At this point, I was rolling my eyes a bit. Really? Do we need to read about this when IRL school is a struggle?)
But, wait. Lightning Girl’s Nana decides that 12-year-old Lucy needs to work on her social skills and sends her to middle school.
“Lucy, we’ve been over this. Give it a year. You can always start college when you’re 13. That’s still 5 years earlier than most people.”
“There’s a 12-year-old boy starting at Cornell this month!”
“Well, he obviously has a nicer grandmother than you do. College can wait.”
Lightning Girl has a rough start at middle school. (Now I can relate.) Some kids laugh at her habits; one girl is her friend and then blurts out Lightning Girl’s secret. Ouch.
Along the way, Lucy find a path forward with her math skills and uses them creatively to help rescue dogs find forever homes. Now we can all get behind that sort of story! I’ve enclosed pictures of our rescue dogs, Dodger and Baylor, who together give 8 paws up for Lightning Girl.
“I will never understand people. In algebra, you can solve an equation when you have 1 unknown variable.
People are equations with dozens of variables. Basically unsolvable.”