The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty

Reviewed by Tammie Benham

At age eight, Lucy Callahan was struck by lightning.  She survived however, the strike left her genius level Math skills, an inability to cope with germs, and the ability to recite the numbers of pi to infinity. Over the years Lucy has developed coping mechanisms to ensure the numbers of pi don’t overtake her life. She only allows the numbers of pi to be recited to the 314th decimal point, and apping her toe three times interrupts the number invasion in her head when she’s uncomfortable. Lucy realizes some of her behaviors may seem odd to others but her intuitive self tells her people will get used to them over time.

Since the lightning strike, Lucy has been mainly homeschooled by her Nana. However, things are about to change. When Nana decides Lucy needs to attend Middle School and enter a world of her peers, Lucy is less than thrilled. Thinking she should be in college, not Middle School, and with the brain power to succeed in such an advanced setting, Lucy tentatively gives in to her Nana’s demands-she must join an activity, read a book that’s not a Math textbook, and make a friend. She finds the new environment as challenging as she had anticipated.

With the help of a like-minded teacher, a germy dog who steals her heart, and a boy who has the knack of seeing things from a different perspective, Lucy might just be able to survive seventh grade.

Lucy’s experiences while making friends with Windy (NOT Wendy) and Levi, serve as the backdrop for this middle grade novel.  Lessons of trust, friendship, loyalty, and forgiveness permeate the storyline. Lucy’s character states she is diagnosed with Acquired Savant Syndrome, which explains her behaviors and abilities.  However, the characteristics Lucy exhibits may be familiar and help children identify with the story.

When the last written page of a book concludes and you find yourself wanting more, it’s always a good thing. Stacy McAnulty’s debut novel ends in just such a way. Here’s hoping the story of Lucy Callahan continues. Written for grades 3-9, the story contains some bullying.

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