1 math genius + 1 year of middle school = problems even the most gifted mind can’t anticipate.
Four years ago, 12-year-old Lucy Callahan was struck by lightning. The strike left her with brain damage, resulting in acquired savant syndrome and a “supercomputer brain.” Lucy can solve any equation, recall every number she’s ever heard or seen, and recite pi to the 314th decimal place (she doesn’t allow herself to go beyond that). Lucy has finished school online and is ready for college, but her grandmother has a few conditions for Lucy to meet before she’ll allow her to move on to higher education. (Nana is her guardian, her mother being dead and her father having split.) The reclusive Lucy has to develop her “soft skills”: She has to attend middle school for 1 year, make 1 friend, and join 1 activity. Math is comfortably predictable; every problem has an answer if you know how to find it. But Lucy quickly realizes no formula can calculate the perils and pitfalls of public school. The multidimensional, highly likable Lucy’s first-person narration is direct and unrestrained. In her first novel for middle graders, McAnulty (Max Explains Everything, 2018, etc.) eschews stylistic convention: All numbers are represented as numerals to allow readers to see the world the way Lucy does. Lucy is white, but she does not subscribe to the white default, observing and describing skin color evenhandedly.
Unique and utterly satisfying. (author’s note) (Fiction. 8-13)