I remember really liking Cynthia Lord's tween book Rules, which I read for Battle of the Books a few years back, so when I stumbled upon a review for her latest book, Half A Chance, I knew I had to read it.
Lucy's family has moved all over the country. Her photographer father tends to get restless staying in one place so, as soon as he feels like he's photographed everything there is to photograph in one place, he packs his family up and embarks on the quest for the next great photo. Unfortunately for Lucy, 12, this arrangement doesn't work so well. She's never had the chance to make any real, lasting friendships, and she doesn't feel like she belongs anywhere. But what Lucy wants more than anything is to connect with her father, who is away from home quite a bit and aloof and distracted when he is around. Opportunity knocks when Lucy learns about a photography contest her father is judging. She feels that if she can take the Perfect Photo and win the contest, she will win her father's attention and approval. So she decides to enter anonymously.
Much of the story revolves around Lucy's journey to find that Perfect Photo and the people she meets along the way: Particularly neighbor boy Nate and his grandmother, whose rapidly failig health is keeping her from doing the things she loves most. Lucy does take a winning picture, but when entering it involves an ethical delimma (she plans to do so using Nate's name), Lucy must make a very important choice about what is really important.
As with Rules, Half A Chance is awesome! Characters are well-rounded and real, and the plot is paced so it never gets dull. Although the story was probably written with girls in mind (the cover is very beachy), girls and boys alike will find something to relate to in this lovely story.
Half A Chance can currently be found in OPL's Youth Area. Recommended for ages 10-14. --AJB