cover image Lucky Broken Girl

Lucky Broken Girl

Ruth Behar. Penguin/Paulsen, $16.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-399-54644-0

Set in 1966, this strongly sketched novel, adult author Behar’s first for children, focuses on a 10-year-old Cuban immigrant whose injury forces a prolonged convalescence and rehabilitation. The story begins with Ruthie Mizrahi moving up from the “dumb class” (where she learned English) to the “regular fifth grade class” at her school in New York City. However, a car accident leaves Ruthie so severely injured that she spends almost a year sequestered in her room in a body cast (“My bed is my island; my bed is my prison; my bed is my home”). Readers will get a powerful sense of the historical setting through Ruthie’s narration, but the novel is perhaps defined even more by her family’s status as immigrants and by its memorable multicultural cast. Some dialogue can ring false (“I am a bit of a hippie. I believe in peace, love, and flower power,” explains the tutor sent to work with Ruthie), but Behar successfully juggles several engaging plot threads, and Ruthie’s complicated relationship with her mother, given the demands of her care, is especially compelling. Ages 10–up. Agent: Alyssa Eisner Henkin, Trident Media Group. (Apr.)