LaFleur, Suzanne. 2013. LISTENING FOR LUCCA. New York: Random House. ISBN 9780375990885 [Suggested Grade Levels 5-8]
This quiet novel blends family drama with a mild ghost story. Siena’s family decides to leave busy Brooklyn to live in a quiet, beach house in hopes this new locale will reduce anxiety and allow her three year old brother to begin speaking again. Her mother also believes the move will allow Siena to start over at a new school and give her the opportunity to make friends. Siena is happy to spend time taking care of her brother and isn’t even sure if she is willing to risk opening up to new friends who might not understand her compulsion for collecting forgotten items or tendency to see people who aren’t really present. As soon as the family moves into the beach house, the children sense the presence of ghosts and Siena becomes convinced that solving the secret of the ghosts’ unhappiness will help Lucca.
Siena’s little brother is a selective mute and much of the plot involves the family’s attempts to encourage Lucca to begin speaking. Siena’s guilt about her perceived role in Lucca’s silence leads her to test the limits of her abilities to commune with ghosts, even though the effort becomes dangerous. Fortunately Siena meets several new friends that accept her quirky behavior and even assist in helping Lucca.
Give this novel to shy tweens that need encouragement making friends or children coping with a sibling’s disability. This book would also be useful for whole group discussions about accepting others.
Other books about teens helping siblings or friends with special needs:
Choldenko, Gennifer. AL CAPONE DOES MY SHIRTS. ISBN 9780399238611
Fletcher, Ralph. FLYING SOLO. ISBN 9780547076522
Philbrick, W.R. FREAK THE MIGHTY. ISBN 9780545566452
By Kimberly C. Kinnaird