Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Lucy Out of Bounds

The second book in the Lucy series, Lucy Out of Bounds, follows the same precocious tomboy readers meet in Lucy Doesn’t Wear Pink. Even though it’s a sequel, this middle grade novel offers a great stand-alone story. I’m sure reading them in order would flesh out the background story, but the author does a great job filling in all the gaps and keeping readers in the know without being repetitive.

A terrible accident killed her mother, blinded her father, and left Lucy with more than a few questions about God and life. She tries to sort them out in her “book of lists”, which is her own way of praying, but all the things most important to her still seem in jeopardy. Her only link to her mom, her aunt, insists on making her more "girlie" -- that includes buying her bras! Lucy wants nothing to do with that. She loves soccer and is dying for a chance to join a real Olympic training team, but her teammates don't take the game seriously enough. The harder she pushes them, the less they like her and the more they goof off. J.J. is her best friend. His big troubles start with an abusive dad, an annoying tag-along sis, and social workers who only seem to make things worse. Lucy wants to help, but every time she does, she gets in trouble herself. Mora used to be her friend but since going boy-crazy, she wants nothing to do with Lucy ... that is, unless it involves stealing J.J. from her. To top it all off, a mountain lion prowls the town and Lucy's dad is losing trust in her.

A gentle, wise housekeeper (who is also Mora's abuela) provides a calm stability for Lucy. She insists on weekly Bible study with Mora and Lucy. Together the three explore the stories of Rachel, Leah and Jacob and individually discover secrets to getting along and becoming the women God created them to be.

What I Like: Just about everything! Nancy Rue consistently creates great stories with diverse multi-faceted characters. I loved the realistic struggles that the characters face in this book. I like that, by the characters' examples, readers are encouraged to weigh their actions and the resulting implications objectively and accurately. The emphasis on being a team player echoes loudly in contrast to our egocentric culture. I also really like the application pulled from the biblical story of Rachel and Leah. So often we look at that story from Jacob's perspective or that of the twelve sons. Rue offers a fresh angle that applies to anyone struggling to find peace with others.

What I Dislike: The main characters (Lucy and J.J.) often criticize others. I realize this is normal for kids and it plays into the story and their character evolution, but it still bothered me. They dance in stereotypes – not racial or economic, but rather social – and regularly mock J.J.’s little sister, a third-grader who characteristically acts far more immature than most 8-year-olds. The word “moron” appears more than once. As the mother of a current third-grader, it felt unnecessarily condescending.

Overall Rating: Very Good

Age Appeal: 9-12

Publisher Info: ZonderKidz, 2008; ISBN: 0310714516; FORMAT, 208 pages; $7.99

Buy it Now at Christianbook.com for $6.29!
OR Buy it at Amazon.com for $7.99.

This title is also available as an ebook for $4.99 from Christianbook.com (several available formats) or direct to Kindle.

Special Info: This book includes references to domestic violence, child abuse and the intervention of social services. Parents should also be aware that some bullying (mostly raw teasing or name-calling) takes place within the story. All situations are handled from positively and from a biblical perspective by surrounding adults.

Also of note: The story positively features key characters of Hispanic and Native American backgrounds, something uncommon in children's literature.

See more reviews of books by Nancy Rue or visit the author's website at www.NancyRue.com

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