If you lived in Hard Pan, who would you be? Are you a creative and thrifty Short Sammy type, living in a water tank? Or are you more like Klincke Ken, who can fix anything and has a fondness for cats and donkeys? Perhaps you're more like sociable Dot, who operates the only beauty salon in town or the Captain, who holds the only steady job with benefits that exists in Hard Pan (postmaster).
Myself, I'd be Mrs. Prender, grandma of the smart-and-sweet 6-year-old Miles and mom of Miles' mom, Justine, who has just returned from a longish stint in prison. Mrs. Prender has been raising Miles as best she can, bringing him books from the library to feed his hunger for knowledge, and then her intense and complicated daughter returns as a new, passionate, and outspoken Christian. The kind that takes the bible as literal and won't let her son read any books about dinosaurs or anything else that contradicts what the bible says about the creation of the earth.
What a dilemma! It's hard for Mrs. Prender, it's hard for Miles, it's even hard for Lucky.
There are other things going on in Lucky's life, and the most dramatic is that the county, personified by Stu Burping, may have to close down Brigitte's Hard Pan Cafe due to a code violation that doesn't allow the commercial serving of food out of a residence. Luckily, the eccentric and independent residents of Hard Pan prove themselves up to the task of teaming up to come up with an innovative solution, leading to a scene of outrageous hilarity and thrills when a tractor with no brakes, towing a cabin, heads slowly and precariously down the road. Unbeknownst to the driver, Klincke Ken, the road ahead is filled with animals and people - so Lincoln and Lucky's friend Paloma jump aboard the tractor to warn him. Klincke Ken can't hear him and is a little annoyed.
"Later!" Klincke Ken shouted. "I'm a little busy!" He resolved to ignore those two and turned back around to face front and the home stretch. And what he saw caused him to rise up in his seat. Kids! And women! Half the blasted town, it looked like - all over the road!Homes and propane tanks on the left, a 4-foot drop to a sandy shoulder on his right, and no brakes! The tension mounts but somehow the comedy does, too - until a combination of factors suddenly clears the road. Klincke Ken accepts the miracle. "The sky had never in his life been so blue, the air so pure, or the sun so brilliant."
Lucky, being her usual slightly fierce and rather tenacious self, has her own troubles. After socking a mean boy in the jaw (well, she had good reason, okay?), Lucky is assigned a task as punishment - to create her family tree. And this means investigating her absent father's side of the family. That Lucky handles this with style and aplomb demonstrates how much she has grown up since the day she ran away two books ago. In The Higher Power of Lucky, Lucky is still quite fragile and desperate for reassurance and in Lucky Breaks, she is trying to handle some powerful and not so positive emotions. Now, Lucky shows herself able to meet difficult situations head-on, with common sense and perspective.
(well, except for that momentary loss of sanity when she punched that boy - ahem!)
It's clear that Lucky is going to weather adolescence just fine. Oh, it'll be rocky at times (because like I said, Lucky is both fierce and tenacious), but her sense of humor and her intelligence will see her through. And Miles will be okay, too - because he's got a great friend in Lucky, plus a loving family in Justine and Mrs. Prender.
And Lincoln? Well, I'd definitely vote for him for president!
Hmm, this seems not to have been a review so much as a catching up on some folks I love to visit when I'm in the area. So, to wrap it up - this is a funny, thought-provoking, and touching finale to Lucky's trilogy. And I'm devastated that I won't be able to read about Hard Pan any more. Nooooooooooo!