Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage is a novel I wasn't super excited about reading. I admit it. And I was wrong about assuming I would hate it. I didn't. In fact, I found it to be delightful and charming and completely worthwhile.
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Rising sixth grader Miss
Moses LoBeau lives in the small town of Tupelo Landing, NC, where
everyone's business is fair game and no secret is sacred. She washed
ashore in a hurricane eleven years ago, and she's been making waves ever
since. Although Mo hopes someday to find her "upstream mother," she's
found a home with the Colonel--a café owner with a forgotten past of his
own--and Miss Lana, the fabulous café hostess. She will protect those
she loves with every bit of her strong will and tough attitude. So when a
lawman comes to town asking about a murder, Mo and her best friend,
Dale Earnhardt Johnson III, set out to uncover the truth in hopes of
saving the only family Mo has ever known.
So why didn't I want to read it?
1. I understood it to be yet another MG novel about a girl who has been orphaned/abandoned/has-parent-separation-issues-of-some-kind and the community that embraces her. And yes, it is. And yes, I'm thoroughly sick of these. HOWEVER, Turnage made it work in a way most authors don't (for me-I know there are people who eat these novels up like chocolate-I'm not one of them). This one is different. It may be Mo's voice which is endearing, sarcastic, and vulnerable all at once. It may be how real both her and Dale seemed from start to finish. It may have been the end, which blessedly went the way I was hoping it would. It may be the humor. Mostly I think what made the difference is that it is not one of those introspective-let's-hold-hands-and-sing type of stories. There are murders, kids playing detectives exactly as kids would, race car crashes, hurricanes, dangerous villains, and a mystery. The book is an action packed funny adventure. I could hand this book to a kid and feel assured they would have fun while reading it.
2. The words "quirky" and "southern" were being used a great deal in conjunction with each other while discussing this book. I, living in the south, have about had it with this too. We are not all that quirky here. I have spent the majority of my adult life living in North Carolina, where the book takes place. And yes, the book has plenty of quirky. There are a whole host of quirky characters, and how they all managed to find the same town to reside in together is an interesting thing to ponder. People, don't walk away from this thinking all small southern towns are flowing with this level of quirky, because they're not. HOWEVER, Turnage made it work. Mostly because the entire book is outlandish. It reads almost like a Tall Tale, so the quirky people work and they fit the story. Mo is a storyteller and this is her telling the story at her best. The contrast of the character from Winston-Salem helped too.
If you are looking for a contemporary story of friendship and family and would like those alongside a fun murder mystery-this book is for you. If , like me, you have avoided this thinking it is more of the same old thing-I urge you to reconsider.