Narrator: Maria Cabezas
Published by Recorded Books on 2014-03-28
Genres: Art & Architecture, Diseases, Illnesses & Injuries, Family, Friendship, General, Health & Daily Living, Multigenerational, New Experience, Social Issues, Young Adult
Length: 4 hrs. 46 mins.
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A moving new middle-grade novel from the Newbery Honor author of Rules. 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.
In Half a Chance, New Hampshire newcomer Lucy gets the lay of the land by participating in a photo scavenger hunt competition. Her hobby helps her make friends and gets her interested in loon preservation. But she also learns that pictures are powerful and reveal hard truths.
I’m familiar with Cynthia Lord’s RULES, which I read with my kid years ago. So I was eager to catch up with her new book Half a Chance. This book is sweet and quiet and reminds you of lazy summer days, budding friendships, playing in the water and eating ice cream. It also tackles some more serious subjects such as the issues of aging and dementia and the effects on the family.
Twelve-year-old Lucy’s father is a famous photographer who yearns to move around, so Lucy is used to being the new girl. She moves with her family to a New Hampshire lake house and makes friends with some of the locals, particularly Nate and his family.
Nate’s grandma Lilah loves visiting the lake, especially keeping track of the waterbirds known as loons. This is probably Grandma Lilah’s last visit to the lake that she’ll remember due to her struggles with memory loss. Lucy wants to do something special for Lilah, and thinks the picture she took could win a cash prize to help pay for a special boat to help Lilah visit the loons. But in Nate’s eyes, this picture casts his grandma in a negative light and he doesn’t approve. I appreciated the honest, respectful portrayal of Grandma Lilah’s dementia and how it ties into the photography / Loons story.
There is also a thread about Lucy seeking approval from her absent father. She wants him to notice her gift for photography and thinks finally if she wins the competition she’ll get his attention.
I listened to the Half a Chance audiobook, performed by Maria Cabezas. Cabezas has a young-sounding voice that’s perfect for Lucy, and I was also impressed with her voices for Nate and Grandma Lilah. Her animated reading made this quiet story even more enjoyable. Listening to Half a Chance was a fun way to spend an afternoon, which you can do since it’s under 5 hours long.
Half a Chance is bittersweet and charming and a great summery choice for middle-grade readers. If you have a middle-grade reader that you think will enjoy listening to this one drop me an email and I’ll send it to you.