Listening for Lucca: A Book Review


Listening for LuccaTitle: Listening for Lucca

Author: Suzanne LaFleur

Published: August 6th, 2013 by Wendy Lamb Books

Pages: 240

Genre: Middle Grade / Realistic Fiction / Fantasy

Source: Library / Hardcover

Series: Nope!

Summary: “I’m obsessed with abandoned things.” Siena’s obsession began a year and a half ago, around the time her two-year-old brother Lucca stopped talking. Now Mom and Dad are moving the family from Brooklyn to Maine hoping that it will mean a  whole new start for Lucca and Siena. She soon realizes that their wonderful old house on the beach holds secrets. When Siena writes in her diary with an old pen she found in her closet, the pen writes its own story, of Sarah and Joshua, a brother and sister who lived in the same house during World War II. As the two stories unfold, amazing parallels begin to appear, and Siena senses that Sarah and Joshua’s story might contain the key to unlocking Lucca’s voice. {from Goodreads}

My Thoughts: This review is going to be a struggle. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy Listening for Lucca, because I did! It was more so that having read LaFleur’s previous two books, I know she has the power to amaze me, and unfortunately, this one just didn’t. While it was a quick read, I couldn’t help but feel like the storyline was forced into one story, making it seem much longer than it actually was. The different aspects just didn’t mesh together. Although this book didn’t work out for me, I am not planning to turn away from Suzanne LaFleur’s work. I know from past experiences that sometimes a book from a beloved author just doesn’t work, and that’s okay! She’ll come back with her fourth book.

Siena and her family has just moved from the big city to a beach house in Maine. Her parents are worried about Siena’s little brother’s speech development, as Lucca hasn’t spoken a single word for months. They are also concerned about Siena’s growing obsession with her strangely realistic dreams, which she experiences not just in sleep, but during the day too. Already, there are a lot of BIG things happening, and there’s even more on top of that. The writing itself wasn’t too complex – the target age group will definitely grasp the story pretty quickly – but the story felt a little muddled at parts, with some details happening just to keep the plot moving. However, most middle grade readers will get lost in the storyline, as I certainly did! :) If you overlook some of the writing problems, I think you’ll find that the intent of the story is actually quite good; You have to be pretty darn creative to tie together a boy not speaking, World War II, starting at a new school, and a girl’s strange dreams together.

Siena was, if being perfectly honest, not very memorable. She didn’t have any remarkable qualities to her personality. I’m not trying to suggest that every main character should be perfect and spectacular, but I wish she wasn’t always just there, emotion-wise. One of the most surprising things of this book was how much I liked Lucca. I wasn’t sure how his character would turn out, but I found his development to be spot-on. The author did a terrific job conveying his feelings and personality without the use of dialogue, and she really showed his growth throughout the story. I also liked the relationship between Siena and Lucca. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think there are enough sibling relationships with age differences so far apart in middle grade and YA books. I actually liked seeing how they affected one another!

Overall, Listening for Lucca wasn’t a bad book, not by any means. It had its positive elements, and it had its negative ones too. If you are looking for a new chance of pace, this novel might be right up your alley. However, don’t expect to be blown away, as Listening for Lucca has a subtle, small impact, and really, sometimes that’s all you need.

Pros: The relationship between Lucca and Siena was developed really well, and it added new dimensions to both characters. Despite the lack of dialogue coming from him, Lucca was also quite an engaging character to read about.

Cons: I never really connected with the plot, as much as I wanted to. The story also switches points of view at awkward points – it took me a bit to figure out who was talking!

Heads Up: War scenes are described, but never in an overly graphic manner.

Overall: I give it 3 stars {***}, and I recommend it for ages 9 and up.

If you want to look more into the topic of being mute, as Lucca was, look into True {… Sort Of} by Katherine Hannigan. It’s another perspective on the subject, and it was so very good the last time I read it :)

Have a wonderful night!


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