I liked Higher Power of Lucky, which won the Newbery medal in 2007, more than I thought that I would. I’m not sure if it was the uninviting cover (the new cover is much nicer, despite depicting the exact same scene) or the generic plot summary, or just that the first few pages didn’t grab me when I tried to read it previously, but I was not looking forward to reading this one on my quest to read all of the Newbery books. I was surprised, then, that I ended up really enjoying it.
The characterization is clearly what won this book its medal, with setting an equally well done element. In some ways I think the side characters were even better done than Lucky herself. The plot element was not distinguished at all. I saw every single piece of plot coming a mile away. The characters, however, stood out, and the setting was pitch perfect. The themes of belonging and struggling with parental figures were solidly done, but since themes tie into plot and the plot was so cliched, I felt they suffered for that.
I’m not sure that I would have given this book the actual award over the Honor book Rules, though to be honest I have not read Rules in a few years and it is never fair to compare a recently read book with one that has had time mellow and grow on your memory. It’s quite possible that as time goes by Lucky’s faults will fade away and leave me with the warm glow of good writing and great characters.