Saturday, June 29, 2019

Reading And Walking: The Higher Power Of Lucky

Welcome to Reading and Walking, where I go for a stroll and attempt to listen to an entire audiobook. I’m going to review the book and show you what I saw on my walk. Simple, right? For this adventure, I chose to listen to The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron. I chose it because it won the Newbery Medal in 2007, and it’s short. The audiobook is 3 hours, 37 minutes. I knew I could walk for that long and finish the book in one afternoon.

The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron

Series: The Hard Pan Trilogy #1
Genre: Realistic middlegrade
Pages: 144 (3hr 37min audiobook)
Publication date: November 2006
Content warning: Death, funerals, abandonment, adoption, runaway children, addiction, incarceration
Available at: Amazon | Book Depository
*This post contains affiliate links. I earn a commission from qualifying purchases.
Lucky, age ten, can't wait another day. The meanness gland in her heart and the crevices full of questions in her brain make running away from Hard Pan, California (population 43), the rock-bottom only choice she has.

It's all Brigitte's fault—for wanting to go back to France. Guardians are supposed to stay put and look after girls in their care! Instead Lucky is sure that she'll be abandoned to some orphanage in Los Angeles where her beloved dog, HMS Beagle, won't be allowed. She'll have to lose her friends Miles, who lives on cookies, and Lincoln, future U.S. president (maybe) and member of the International Guild of Knot Tyers. Just as bad, she'll have to give up eavesdropping on twelve-step anonymous programs where the interesting talk is all about Higher Powers. Lucky needs her own—and quick.

But she hadn't planned on a dust storm.

Or needing to lug the world's heaviest survival-kit backpack into the desert.

While listening to the book, I walked north on the Cherry Creek Regional Trail. I started walking at 6 in the morning in the hope of not getting killed by a competitive cyclist. The trails near my house are dangerous in summer because competitive bicyclists come from all over the world to train at high altitude. Cyclists aren’t very considerate of walkers. They fly around blind curves, and I dive out of their way like a hero in an action movie. If I ever suddenly disappear from the blogosphere, it’s probably because I died in a bicycle-clobbering incident. I’m not a competent action hero. RIP me.

At least it's a pretty place to die . . . .

The Higher Power of Lucky made my near-death experiences infinitely better. I really like this book! It’s the kind of story I would have read over and over as a preteen. Ten-year-old Lucky lives with her guardian in a vivid little desert town. Lucky has been abandoned before and sees her guardian’s homesickness for France as a sign that she will soon be abandoned again. To avoid being dumped in an orphanage, Lucky decides to run away and live in the desert.

Every character in this novel is realistically flawed. Lucky has a mean streak and sometimes lashes out at her friends. There isn’t much to do in Lucky’s town, so her favorite hobby is eavesdropping on twelve-step addiction recovery meetings. She hears about the worst moments in her neighbors’ lives. I like this aspect of the novel because it shows young readers that everybody has problems. Everybody makes mistakes. You can recover from them if you put in the effort.

This book doesn’t have much of a plot, but I found the characters interesting enough that I didn’t care. I enjoyed watching Lucky mature and correct her mistakes. There are some brilliant moments of humor. Lucky overhears the word “scrotum” at a twelve-step meeting and badly wants to know what a scrotum is, which is funny and realistic for a ten-year-old girl. There’s also a scene where Lucky’s guardian finds a snake in the clothes dryer and duct tapes the dryer closed so it can’t get out. I think young readers would appreciate the humor.

The early bird getting the worms.

A place for wild critters.

A pond for the conserved wildlife.

I don’t have many complaints about the book. As I mentioned, this is a character-focused book, so kids who are used to plot-heavy novels may get bored with the lack of action. My only wish is that the book had more cohesion. There’s some talk of rock bottom, higher powers, and finding the courage to change your life. I wish those elements had been a bigger part of the story. They could have been used to effectively tie the disparate parts of the book together. The plot would have seemed less scattered that way.

It made her feel discouraged, like if you took the word apart into two sections of dis and couraged. It was getting harder and harder to stay couraged.The Higher Power of Lucky

Newbery winners are pretty hit-or-miss for me. I’m happy to report that this one was a hit. As a kid, I would have found Lucky’s mean streak and desire to run away relatable. I would have appreciated the honest way the author depicts the problems of a small town. Where was The Higher Power of Lucky when I was a kid?

Speaking of small towns and a lack of action, my walk was pretty uneventful. I didn’t get murdered by a bicycle. I didn’t even get rained on. The only mildly inconvenient thing that happened was the gnats. There were so many gnats along the creek that I think I breathed in more bugs than oxygen at certain points. Guys, I hate bugs. Why do they have to exist?

This is where the bugs live. I would not suggest walking here.

A toppled tree.

Wandering past a neighborhood.

In 3 hours, 37 minutes, I walked about 7 miles (11km) and got an itchy sunburn. Next time, I should probably remember the sunblock. Bring on the next book and the next walk.

Tell me about the last long walk you took


  1. Love this idea, but I am currently listening to Robert Caro's first volume of his Lyndon Johnson biography, "The Path to Power, which is only 40 hours... I don't think I can stay away that long. As for recent hikes, I haven't made any but did paddle out to a neighboring island yesterday (12 mile roundtrip).

  2. Cyclists are the worst! I've nearly been taken out by them when I've been out hiking. Glad you're still alive. ;D I really enjoyed reading The Higher Power of Lucky. It's a cute book.

  3. Omg I hate bugs too! I absolutely concur about the cyclists running walkers over. It's happened to me as the cyclist was heading straight for me on a downhill, he barely hit me. I could picture in my mind you flying out of the way like a hero :) lol. It's nice to hear about your adventure walk and read.

  4. I love that you walk the whole time you listen to a book! Maybe I should try this. This does sound really good and the trail you walked is gorgeous! Congrats on getting out there so early. You have more willpower than I do! XD

  5. Haha, I can totally relate about the cyclists! Here they even do those things on the road and don't even pay attention to cars, so you have to be extra careful while driving in case a group of cyclists decides to just cross the street unexpectedly in front of you or something :) But I digress.. I love the idea of listening to an entire audiobook while walking, and the area you walked does look so beautiful!

  6. Boo to cyclists. You should carry branches to stick in their wheels. That would learn them. But, anyhow, it looks really lovely where you walked. You move at pretty good clip when you walk. Wow! Get it! For 144 pages, that book seemed to pack a lot of issues, glad you enjoyed your walk with Lucky.

  7. As always, your pictures are gorgeous! Glad you didn't get flattened by a cyclist!

  8. I really, really love these posts. Your book reviews mix so well with your comments, snarky and sincere, about the highlights along your walk. My daughter and I think we walked 4 miles the other day, though it may have been 3--either way, it's a step (har!) in the right direction.

  9. The last long walk I took... you are asking the hard questions over here! Ummm. OH I know at work last month I had to go on this coal mine tour and it was like, all day walking and I was so tired and also barely got to read (nevermind that I should have had zero reading but shhh). I probably walked a similar distance at ALA but the world may never know. I love that you do these posts, your pictures are so lovely, and it's such a fun and unique idea! The book sounds very sweet too, I think my daughter would like it, so I shall pass along the recommendation. And then probably BUY the recommendation hah.

  10. I love to take walks and listen to books! I never walk as far as you did or get to see such nice scenery but it is just really pleasant. This sounds like a nice story to go along with your walk :)

  11. So glad you survived your walk! I've never heard of this book, but I'll definitely have to check it out. I love how you do these short books while walking. :-)

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

  12. I love that you walked and read! What a great idea. I don't take long walks, but I do enjoy running and can go for about 30 minutes. We have a nature center nearby, I should try walking there with my next audiobook. You have inspired me!


    Thanks for shining a light on this one. If Hoopla has it I will give it a whirl. I'll also look for it on Book Outlet to buy for the neighborhood Little Free Library. πŸ‘✨

    I always love your walk photos. 🌳