Rummanah Aasi
  I thoroughly enjoyed reading Cynthia Lord's Rules and was very excited to read her latest book called Half a Chance. Half a Chance is a delightful read which combines the adventures of a summer vacation along with a sensitive and mature look at how a family deals with an ailing member of the family. Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for an advanced reader's copy of this book.

Description: When Lucy's family moves to an old house on a lake, Lucy tries to see her new home through her camera's lens, as her father has taught her -- he's a famous photographer, away on a shoot. Will her photos ever meet his high standards? When she discovers that he's judging a photo contest, Lucy decides to enter anonymously. She wants to find out if her eye for photography is really special -- or only good enough.
  As she seeks out subjects for her photos, Lucy gets to know Nate, the boy next door. But slowly the camera reveals what Nate doesn't want to see: his grandmother's memory is slipping away, and with it much of what he cherishes about his summers on the lake. This summer, Nate will learn about the power of art to show truth. And Lucy will learn how beauty can change lives . . . including her own.


Review: Lucy and her parents have moved from an apartment in Boston to a lakeside cottage in New Hampshire. Her father, a prominent nature photographer, is immediately off to Arizona for a photo shoot. Lucy's apprehension of being the new girl and fitting in at a new school is put at rest as she slowly starts making friends. She is welcomed by Nate, whose family is spending the summer with his grandmother in the house next door. Kayaking, hiking, and loon-monitoring with Nate, Lucy chronicles their experiences using her own budding talent for photography, a hobby that she wishes would bring her closer to her self centered father.
  When she learns that Nate's Grandma Lilah's failing health is keeping her from observing her beloved loon family up close, she and Nate devise a plan to rent a motorized raft to take her out on the lake by entering into a photography contest which leads Lucy to face an ethical dilemma in her decision to enter the contest and which photos to use.
 Half a Chance feels like a summer read thanks to the combined vivid, cinematic description of the setting yet it also has depth with deft characterization and handles several important issues with sensitivity, nuance, and great skill. Lucy may seem bland at first, but soon you get wrapped up in her self journey as she grapples with ambivalent feelings of wanting the attention and approval of her father and face rivalry in the face of new friendships. The trips to saving the loons and photography become metaphors for the mutability of life and the importance of savoring captured moments. Young readers would enjoy the relaxed setting but also learn quite a few things along the way.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: None. Recommended for Grades 4 and up.

If you like this book try: Rules by Cynthia Lord, The Center of Everything by Linda Urban, Pie by Sarah Weeks
4 Responses
  1. Oh I like the sound of cinematic descriptions. Also, the handling of delicate situations. Hm.. I would have passed on this one if it wasn't for the review. Now I'm curious. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.


  2. It sounds like a beautiful story for all readers. Maybe the older reader would get the deeper meaning but all would enjoy the story. We can relate to ailing grandparents, and parents that put work first, if not firsthand then through friends. I'm glad you can recommend this one!


  3. I always enjoy books that deal with dementia in a realistic manner and it sounds like this one does so. Just out of curiosity, Rummanah, is the target audience of this one YA or MG?


  4. Summer reads so rarely come with real emotional depth so I'm glad to hear this has a little bit of both. It's not my usual type of read, but that only means I need to read something different and soon. Lovely review! :)


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