listening for lucca

Listening for Lucca by Suzanne LaFleur

Siena and her family move to Maine from Brooklyn to help her little brother Lucca.  He doesn’t speak, using only gestures to communicate with them.  Siena isn’t sad to move, since she didn’t have lots of friends to leave behind.  Maine should be a new start for all of them.  When they arrive at their big old house on the beach, the family gets to work fixing it up.  But both Lucca and Siena believe that the house is haunted by a family that used to live there.  Siena finds a pen on a high shelf in her closet that seems to connect her to a young girl who used to live in the house.  She also dreams about the girl’s brother Joshua as he fights in World War II.  The stories of the two families have striking similarities that give Siena the idea that she may be able to not only fix the present but also the past.

I adored this book.  LaFleur tells a story of mystery and ghosts where the past is just as alive and changeable as the present.  Throughout the book has a sweetness and wistfulness to it that makes it a pleasure to read.  I also appreciated the way that Siena has a tie to the past through her collection of lost items.  LaFleur builds her story carefully, so that each element makes an innate sense as it happens.  Beautifully done.

The characters are strongly written.  Siena is a heroine who can be prickly at times, but has the courage and talents to make a difference.  She is an incredible older sister, loving and attentive, but is much more critical of herself.  Her parents and younger brother are just as fully realized in the story.  The friends that Siena makes in town all also have touches that make them whole as people.

This lovely book transcends genres with its mix of mystery, historical fiction, and fantasy.  It’s a winning combination.  Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from digital galley received from Edelweiss and Wendy Lamb Books.