Susan Patron’s The Higher Power of Lucky provides readers with a large list of possible topics that could be discussed one-on-one, or in a group setting. Addiction plays a large role in the community, as does unemployment. The wide variety of family situations present in Hard Pan offers a particularly strong base for conversations between younger readers and adults.
Lucky’s personal life shows examples of divorce, abandonment, the grief of losing a parent, and the uncertainty that comes with having a guardian that (through Lucky’s point of view) does not seem fully invested in parenting a child. Each of these experiences alone can provide quite a bit of uncertainty for children; the combination of these situations in Lucky’s life help explain why she is so intent on finding her “Higher Power”. Miles’ family situation also provides discussion points, as many children likely have parents that are incarcerated for one reason or another. His obsession with the book Are You My Mother? is heartbreaking, and may be something that older readers pick up on. These unique family situations may jumpstart conversations about family structure that are necessary, as many children live in families that depart from the traditional nuclear model. Stories that highlight the many potential differences in family structure offer youth the opportunity to discuss differences without making it personal (which may discourage in depth and honest conversations).
Despite the many serious discussion points that are provided throughout the story, the author does manage to keep the book light. As Elissa Gershowitz says the “tale of a grieving, insecure girl is never heavy-handed or maudlin, due in part to quiet bursts of humor.” Lucky’s quirky personality and natural interest in a variety of subjects provide adequate distraction from the mature themes in the book.
Ultimately, I believe that the recommended age group seems a bit too young. However, I think that there is the potential for some very valuable discussions with teachers or parents regarding the more serious topics that arise in Lucky’s life.
Gershowitz, E. (2007). “The Higher Power of Lucky” The Horn Book, 83(1), Jan/Feb. Accessed through Wilson Web.