As deceptively quiet in tone as its New Hampshire lakeside setting, this affecting book affirms the power of art as it tackles profound issues of loss, memory, aging, belonging and the inevitability of change.
Twelve-year-old narrator Lucy has moved again, and her famous nature-photographer father, whose attention she seeks, is traveling again. She meets boy-next-door Nate, whose grandmother Lilah is descending into dementia. This may be Lilah’s last summer at the lake; her family struggles with her care and the impending changes. When Lucy discovers that her father is judging a kids’ photography contest, she decides to enter, spending the summer taking pictures and tracking the loon population with Nate. Lucy takes a picture of Lilah that captures the old woman’s terrible panic. She knows Nate would not want her to submit the photo; her father, however, would value the truth it captures. As Lucy’s dad has taught her, “Even in the midst of horrible things, there are little bits of wonder, and all of it’s true.” Both the loons and photography become metaphors for the mutability of life and the importance of savoring captured moments. Nate and Lucy’s sweet budding romance will appeal to preteens.
With winning results, Lord brings the same sensitivity to the subject of dementia that she brought to autism in her Newbery Honor book, Rules (2006). (Fiction. 8-12)