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The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl is about a home-schooled math whiz with obsessive compulsive disorder trying to get by in middle school. Written by Stacy McAnulty (Goldie Blox Rules the School!), the story celebrates the way Lucy's love for math shapes the way she views the world. Her OCD is portrayed as a quirk she chooses to accommodate, with just a brief mention of it as a treatable condition. Middle school drama includes mean girls and a shortsighted teacher. One child has two moms, another feels like a misfit in her family, and another is pressured by her mom about her body image. Lucy's grandma and uncle are her closest family since her mom died of cancer and her father abandoned the family. Lucy tries to save a terminally ill dog from being put down.
- Parents say
- Kids say
Have you ever been the outsider? It is tough especially when you are a math savant with obsessive compulsive disorder.
What's the story?
In THE MISCALCULATIONS OF LIGHTNING GIRL, Lucy survived a lightning strike that left her with genius-level math talent -- and obsessive compulsive disorder. She's only 12 and capable of starting college, but her grandmother enrolls her in middle school to spend time with kids her age. Though Lucy downplays her math skills to try to fit in, she can't hide her OCD routines from snickering classmates. She falls into friendship with kind Windy, who wants to save the world, and cynical Levi, who regards everyone through his camera lens. As they work together on a service project at a local shelter, Lucy struggles to unlock the right formula to manage the everyday ups and downs of middle school.
Is it any good?
In her remarkable, heartfelt first middle-grade book, Stacy McAnulty shares the beauty and joy of math alongside the illogic of trying to calculate teh best path to navigate relationships and life. The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl sets up a fantastic premise -- a girl whose brain was rewired by a lightning strike -- and builds to a sweet, satisfying payoff. Lucy feels alone but shares the worries of every middle-schooler: wanting to be her unique self without being seen as different. Aside from the cookie-cutter mean-girl melodrama, the novel is enriched by diverse, authentic supporting characters who have their own challenges.
Even the math-averse will appreciate how McAnulty (Earth! My First 4.54 Billion Years) describes Lucy's perspective, where numbers are a colorful canvas and patterns bring comfort and understanding. This is a wonderful book to inspire readers to see the world -- and the people in it -- with fresh eyes.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Lucy uses math as a tool to cope with anxiety in The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl. What helps you settle down when you're anxious?
What kind of "soft skills" do you think you're learning in school and other activities with people your age?
When Lucy lashes out at others online, they block her. What tools do you use to avoid mean or aggressive people on social media?
- Author: Stacy McAnulty
- Genre: Coming of Age
- Topics: Friendship, Great Girl Role Models, Middle School, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
- Publication date: May 1, 2018
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 304
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
Themes & Topics
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For kids who love math and middle school stories
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.