Rummanah Aasi
  I've been meaning to pick up a book by Suzanne LaFluer for quite sometime now. I eyed Love, Ruby but I wasn't ready for a melancholic tone after reading some heavy books before it. I decided to try her latest, Listening for Lucca, which had a higher potential to be an uplifting read and it definitely hit the mark.

Description: "I'm obsessed with abandoned things." Siena's obsession began a year and a half ago, around the time her two-year-old brother Lucca stopped talking. Now Mom and Dad are moving the family from Brooklyn to Maine hoping that it will mean a whole new start for Lucca and Siena. She soon realizes that their wonderful old house on the beach holds secrets. When Siena writes in her diary with an old pen she found in her closet, the pen writes its own story, of Sarah and Joshua, a brother and sister who lived in the same house during World War II. As the two stories unfold, amazing parallels begin to appear, and Siena senses that Sarah and Joshua's story might contain the key to unlocking Lucca's voice.

Review: Listening for Lucca is an enticing story that effectively blends history, mystery, paranormal, and family in an enjoyable and quiet story. As the story begins, Siena moves from New York City to a Maine coastal town before she starts eighth grade. The move, which would irritate many her age, springs a new hope for Sienna and the the possibility of resolving her problem of connecting to people and curing her brother Lucca's mutism.
  Siena is unlike most teens. She is prone to have strange visions of the past in which transport her not only into another person's life and but also in a different time period. Afraid to mention her visions and being forever marked a weirdo, Siena keeps things to herself and hopes that a new home and atmosphere will maker her visions go away. She also harbors a deep guilt that she is responsible for Lucca's silence and spends lots of time with him and hoping that he will talk. She also collects all sorts of found items that she deems abandoned. 
  In Maine, she sees and hears members of the family who lived in her house during World War II. When she writes with an old pen found in the house, it produces not her handwriting, but that of Sarah, a girl from the earlier period. Even more astonishing, she seems to actually enter Sarah's mind, seeing and feeling everything along with her. Siena finds a lot of commonalities between herself and Sarah: the yearning to connect to someone, the love for a sibling, etc. She also is able to share Sarah's brother Joshua's war experiences, which send him home psychologically damaged and like Lucca completely removed from his family. 
  Through a compassionate act of courage, Siena's gift ultimately provides satisfying solutions for Sarah's family and her own. LaFleur deftly handles the tale's many layers, never allowing readers to get lost nor bored. Events and characters are fully developed and are completely believable, without making it feel contrived. 
  The paranormal aspect of Listening Lucca is very subdued, not meant to scare its readers but are suspenseful and draw you closer to the story. I also think this device serves a more complex purpose-allowing the reader to get a glimpse into Siena's psyche- her fears, vulnerabilities, guilt, and desires. Her visions bring her a renewed confidence and allows her to make new friendships who find her visions interesting and cool, even a budding new romance. Her ability to see, interact with, and even alter the past eventually provides her with the insight to help her brother regain his desire to speak and to reestablish their shaking sibling relationship. 
 Though the secondary characters are also well written and fleshed out, the story belongs to Siena and her journey to self acceptance. The first half of the book is a bit slow but soon picks up when the visions are introduced. Listening for Lucca is a heartwarming experience. I think readers will forgive its slow start and enjoy its satisfying conclusion. 

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There are glimpses of the battlefields of World War II but they are tastefully done, not too graphic or overwhelming for young readers. Recommended for Grades 5 and up.

If you like this book try: When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead, Across the Reach by Cynthia Furlong Reynolds, or Flip-Flop Girl by Katherine Paterson
3 Responses
  1. This sounds very interesting. I love books that show character growth and I love this era.

  2. I'm glad it isn't too harrowing, but it still sounds like a good read. I'm also thinking this would make a great gift for someone I have in mind.

  3. Candace Says:

    Wow, I don't remember even hearing of this before and it sounds really good! I read Glimmers, which is WAY different, but has that transport to another time and person thing, and it was really intriguing. I love the concept!

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