Saving Lucas Biggs
Marisa de los Santos and David Teague
After breezing through a picture book on my lunch break for my last Texas Bluebonnet Award nominee, the next on the list was a chapter book. But, with summer reading now behind us, I have much more free time available for reading, and I had no trouble reading Saving Lucas Biggs in just a few days. And, while the book was different from anything I’ve read in a while, I have to say that it was quite good, and one that I’m happy to recommend to others.
Summary: When Margaret’s father is convicted of a crime that she knows he didn’t commit, she doesn’t know how to process it. Worse, Judge Biggs, the notoriously heartless and evil company judge, has sentenced her father to death. As the verdict is handed down, Margaret’s father begs her to repeat the foreswearing, although she doesn’t know why. But when her best friend Charlie and his grandpa Josh propose an idea so crazy that it just might work, Margaret realizes that sometimes, promises must be broken. Margaret must now go back in time to when Judge Biggs was just a boy, in the hopes of preventing the past that formed his present. But history resists, and this is no easy task. Will Margaret be able to change the past and save her father, or will her efforts be in vain?
What I Liked: While this book is a classic story of good versus evil, the way it is presented offers so much more. Not only does Margaret learn about right and wrong, she learns about treasuring the moment, never giving up on those you love, and finding strength in each other when you have no strength on your own. The story is told from three perspectives: Margaret, Grandpa Josh (as a boy), and, at the very end of the book, Margaret’s best friend Charlie. The alternating perspectives are not only interesting, and useful in speeding the plot, but they also allow a depth of understanding unavailable otherwise, by presenting the story from many sides. The plot is multi-layered and beautiful. While it is the story of Margaret and her hope to save her father, it is simultaneously the story of a downtrodden, abused community that finds strength in doing what is right, even when it is hard.
What I Didn’t Like: Honestly, there wasn’t much that I didn’t like about this book. But, one thing that I didn’t like was the inclusion of a chapter in Charlie’s voice at the end of the book. The story is really that of Margaret and Grandpa Josh, and while Charlie is important, I didn’t feel like his role in the story merited his own chapter told from his perspective. Other than that, my only complaint is that I would have liked a bit more background about Margaret’s dad and his role at the company. Since the company’s history is so integral to the story, it would have been interesting to have more insight into how Margaret’s family fit into the company overall.
Overall Feeling: This book has a stunning, heartfelt message. It manages to encourage deep thought, while simultaneously lulling the reader into thinking it is just a story. The triumph of good over evil is not guaranteed, and thus the story doesn’t come across as trite or overdone. The obstacles against Margaret are realistic and compelling. While it’s true that history resists, it’s even more true that humans resist, too. The truth of the struggle lies in the Margaret and Grandpa Josh working through people, and realizing that humanity is much more complex than just changing a single moment. While time travel is admittedly not something realistic, the story is written in such a way that the reader is completely certain of the ability to move through time. More importantly, the story gives the reader a strong sense that any individual has the power to exact change in the world. I recommend this book for anyone who enjoys adventure, realism, and the power of friendship.