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Aeicha @ Word Spelunking

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

ARC Review: Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage

TITLE: Three Times Lucky         AUTHOR: Sheila Turnage
PUB: Dial                                        PUB DATE: 5/10/12
FORMAT: ARC, 256 pages         
SOURCE: from the pub for review

A hilarious Southern debut with the kind of characters you meet once in a lifetimeRising 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.Full of wisdom, humor, and grit, this timeless yarn will melt the heart of even the sternest Yankee.

THREEish WORDS: Boatload of Charm & Delight

MY REVIEW: Reading Sheila Turnage’s MG book Three Times Lucky is like settling in on the front porch swing on a sunny day with a glass of sweet tea and a gaggle of friends and family swapping tales and jokes…relaxing, fun and nowhere else I’d rather be!

Eleven years ago, during a hurricane, a baby washed up in Tupelo Landing, NC. Christened Moses “Mo” LoBeau, she has been raised by the Colonel and Miss Lana. The Colonel, whose own forgotten past is a mystery, owns the local café and Miss Lana is the hostess with flair. Mo loves Tupelo Landing, its people and her ragtag family, but still longs to find her “upstream mother”. But when a lawman comes to town, investigating a murder and one of Tupelo Landing’s own turns up dead, Mo and her BFF Dale Earnhardt Johnson III form the Desperado Detectives and set out to catch a killer and just maybe save Mo’s family.  

A boatload of charm and delight doesn’t really do this MG book justice; it’s more like a giant yacht full! Sheila Turnage has created one of the funniest, most delightful and heartwarming stories that I’ve read in a long while. With a completely captivating mix of humor, heart, mystery, excitement and an enchanting cast of characters, Three Times Lucky is the perfect kind of middle grade book.

This book is over the top in the best way possible, touching in unexpected ways and its Southern charm is absolutely irresistible. Told from Mo’s perspective, Turnage has crafted a pitch-perfect and laugh out loud voice. The story itself is quite grand and soap operatic- what with babies washing up during hurricanes, amnesia, murders, bank robberies, lost loves, new loves, scandalous loves- but Turnage has somehow taken all these things and weaved them together to create a story that readers will want to believe in.

There’s a fabulous and large cast of colorful characters and I loved every single one of them...even the bad guys. Mo LoBeau is definitely my new favorite MG heroine! With her spunky, fearless attitude, big heart, quick wit and courageous grace, she shines bright! Whether Mo is taking orders at the café, raising money for her crush, karate chopping bad guys or saving the day, she puts her whole heart into everything she does. Mo’s best friend, Dale Earnhardt Johnson III (the “third” stands for Dale Earnhardt, the racecar driver’s infamous car number!) is a sweet, endearing sidekick with moxie of his own.  

The Colonel and Miss Lana are wonderful parental characters and readers will be just as addicted to their story as to Mo’s. Dale’s nineteen year old brother and Mo’s crush, Lavender, is another awesome character. I loved his interaction with Mo and how sweet he is to her. Mo swears that one day she’ll marry Lavender and they’ll have a bunch of adopted children and you know what, I wouldn’t be surprised if ten years down the road Mo did finally get that boy to fall in love with her! There are too many other characters to mention, but Turnage definitely offers readers a town full of lovable, engaging and completely eccentric characters.

The mystery and intrigue are fun and exciting, while the other storylines are moving and heartwarming. There are some serious topics being explored in this book-poverty, abusive relationships, alcoholism, abandonment- and Turnage writes about these things with both sensitivity and humor, and in a way that is appropriate for younger readers but still realistic.

One of the things I love most about Three Times Lucky is the fictional setting of Tupelo Landing. This small NC town may not be real, but it felt like home. Many readers may find Turnage’s made up town to be unbelievable and an exaggerated look at small southern communities, but as a resident of a small NC city myself, I can tell you that her depiction is spot on. And more importantly, it is entertaining and enjoyable!

MY FINAL THOUGHTS: I loved everything about this book and cannot wait to read it again! Three Times Lucky is a fantastic MG debut full of heart, humor and superb characters. A definite MUST read!


Find the author: Website / Goodreads / Facebook
Sheila Turnage is an author, poet and journalist. In addition to Three Times Lucky (Dial Books for Young Readers/Penguin, 2012) she is also the author of Haunted Inns of the Southeast(John F. Blair, Publisher), Compass American Guide: North Carolina (Fodors/Random House), and Trout the Magnificent (HBJ). Sheila was born in Jacksonville, NC, and grew up on a tobacco farm in eastern North Carolina. She earned a B.A. degree in anthropology from East Carolina University in Greenville, NC. Sheila Turnage and her family live in North Carolina. She is currently writing a second novel for Dial/Penguin Group USA.


Beth D. said...

A wonderful review! It sounds like a lot of fun. I might have to check it out.

Beth ^_^

DMS said...

I like the title- sounds like a twisting tale of fun drama! Thanks for the review : ) ~ Jess

Aeicha @ Word Spelunking said...

Thanks Beth and Jess! It really is a superb MG :)