Lucy's father is a photographer who travels frequently for his job. He heads out on assignment just as her family is getting settled into their new little red cottage on a New Hampshire lake. Lucy quickly meets the family in the cottage next door, one of the summer families. As Lucy gets to know them, she becomes fast friends with Nate, about her age, and often goes with him on Loon Patrol, where she learns a great deal about the lake's feathered residents. As Lucy tells Nate about a youth photography contest her father is judging, they decide to enter the contest which Lucy hopes will help her understand her father's true opinion of her own photography. As Lucy is taking photos, she realizes that her photos are telling a story of Nate's grandmother. A story that Nate is not keen to see or admit.
Half a Chance is a perfect slow summer read. It begs you to find a shady hammock where you can hear the crickets chirping, or perhaps the loons calling, and fully immerse yourself in a quiet summer story. The author, Cynthia Lord, has such a gift for storytelling. She handles the difficulty of dementia, especially from a child's perspective, with the same grace that she handled autism in Rules. The best part is that while the story revolves around Nate's grandmother's slip into dementia, the photography contest, forming new friendships, even the education about loons rounds the novel out so nicely that the reader doesn't feel like the story is just about Nate's grandmother and her illness. I do admit that I wasn't fond of Lucy's father. He felt quite self-centered, and I found myself wanting to shake him into awareness of how much he was hurting his daughter. The intermittent storyline of Megan, a character who was a tad bit jealous of Lucy and treated her unkindly, was lovely though. Lucy negotiated that situation beautifully by ignoring Megan then later reaching out to her; a fine example of how to treat unkind people without making Lucy into a glaringly obvious goody-goody.
You can find Half a Chance in the Middle Grade Books section of The Book Children Store.