cover image Lolo’s Light

Lolo’s Light

Liz Garton Scanlon. Chronicle, $16.99 (232p) ISBN 978-1-7972-1294-4

Garton (The Great Good Summer) treats the topic of grief with wisdom and tenderness in this slice-of-life novel set on the North Shore of Chicago. Everything seems to go fine on the evening that 12-year-old Millie Donally babysits for the very first time, but she learns the next morning that sometime during the night, her four-month-old charge, Lolo Acosta, died from sudden infant death syndrome. No one blames Millie for the baby’s death, but the rising seventh grader, who attends comedy camp and practices improv, nevertheless feels guilty and soon experiences depression. Her only comfort is a warm, yellow light burning continuously in Lolo’s window. When Millie reads about bioluminescence, “light that is both produced and emitted by a living organism,” she starts to wonder if the glow means that Lolo is partially “still here, on Earth.” The memory of the light’s warmth helps Millie get through a school chicken-hatching project that requires her to carefully tend fertilized eggs. Divided into tonally discrete “before” and “everything after” sections that convey the tween’s transformation, the narrative economically and movingly renders Millie’s inner turmoil—and work with a therapist—in the wake of a sorrowful event. Characters default to white. Ages 10–up. Agent: Erin Murphy, Erin Murphy Literary. (Oct.)