cover image Lucky Stars

Lucky Stars

Lucy Frank, . . Atheneum/Jackson, $16.95 (295pp) ISBN 978-0-689-85933-5

Frank's (Oy, Joy! ) tender novel centers on a pair of troubled teens who find themselves, and each other, through music (and through an abandoned duck named Dirk). Talented singer Kira moves to New York City to live with her father, an out-of-luck musician whose wife has just left him with their two small boys. While performing with him in the subway, she meets Jake, who has trouble speaking because of a severe stutter, and his eccentric best friend, Eugene. They connect when they come across each other and a duck thrown out in an alley, which Kira agrees to adopt; their relationship strengthens when they join their school's chorus. Frank credibly presents the characters and their problems: through the teens' alternating perspectives, readers learn that Kira's dad drives a cab at night, forcing her to cook and care for her brothers, and Jake's been skipping school and even lies to his parents about seeing a speech therapist. Their chorus teacher encourages them to find their "joyous" selves within and, thanks to some plotting from Eugene plus a mutual love, they begin to do just that. Readers can't help but applaud. Ages 10-14. (July)