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The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl
Cover of The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl
The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl
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A lightning strike gave her a super power...but even a super genius can't solve the problem of middle school. This smart and funny novel is perfect for fans of The Fourteenth Goldfish, Rain Reign, and Counting by Sevens.
Lucy Callahan was struck by lightning. She doesn't remember it, but it changed her life forever. The zap gave her genius-level math skills, and ever since, Lucy has been homeschooled. Now, at 12 years old, she's technically ready for college. She just has to pass 1 more test—middle school!
Lucy's grandma insists: Go to middle school for 1 year. Make 1 friend. Join 1 activity. And read 1 book (that's not a math textbook!). Lucy's not sure what a girl who does calculus homework for fun can possibly learn in 7th grade. She has everything she needs at home, where nobody can make fun of her rigid routines or her superpowered brain. The equation of Lucy's life has already been solved. Unless there's been a miscalculation?
A celebration of friendship, Stacy McAnulty's smart and thoughtful middle-grade debut reminds us all to get out of our comfort zones and embrace what makes us different.
AN NPR BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
A KIRKUS REVIEWS BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
"An engaging story, full of heart and hope. Readers of all ages will root for Lucy, aka Lightning Girl. No miscalculations here!" —Kate Beasley, author of Gertie's Leap to Greatness
A lightning strike gave her a super power...but even a super genius can't solve the problem of middle school. This smart and funny novel is perfect for fans of The Fourteenth Goldfish, Rain Reign, and Counting by Sevens.
Lucy Callahan was struck by lightning. She doesn't remember it, but it changed her life forever. The zap gave her genius-level math skills, and ever since, Lucy has been homeschooled. Now, at 12 years old, she's technically ready for college. She just has to pass 1 more test—middle school!
Lucy's grandma insists: Go to middle school for 1 year. Make 1 friend. Join 1 activity. And read 1 book (that's not a math textbook!). Lucy's not sure what a girl who does calculus homework for fun can possibly learn in 7th grade. She has everything she needs at home, where nobody can make fun of her rigid routines or her superpowered brain. The equation of Lucy's life has already been solved. Unless there's been a miscalculation?
A celebration of friendship, Stacy McAnulty's smart and thoughtful middle-grade debut reminds us all to get out of our comfort zones and embrace what makes us different.
AN NPR BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
A KIRKUS REVIEWS BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
"An engaging story, full of heart and hope. Readers of all ages will root for Lucy, aka Lightning Girl. No miscalculations here!" —Kate Beasley, author of Gertie's Leap to Greatness
Available formats-
  • Kindle Book
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Languages:-
Copies-
  • Available:
    1
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
  • Lexile:
    530
  • Interest Level:
  • Text Difficulty:
    1 - 3

Recommended for you

Excerpts-
  • From the book

    I don't remember the moment that changed my life 4 years ago. Call it a side effect of being struck by lightning. That bolt of electricity burned a small hole in my memory. It also rewired my brain, transforming me into Lucille Fanny Callahan, math genius.

    I've been told the lightning-strike story 42 times, so it's almost like my own memory. I see it perfectly: I'm at the Crystal Creek Apartments, where Nana and I lived then. (There's not really a creek, just a big dirty fountain in front.) I'm playing outside with a girl named Cecelia when the thunderstorm starts. We live in North Carolina, and storms happen all the time in the spring and summer. We watch from behind a toolshed. For some reason, I climb on the chain link fence. Maybe 8-year-old me was a daredevil; 12-year-old me definitely is not.

    Lightning strikes the fence, and the electricity runs through the metal links and then through me. Some of the current even jumps from me to Cecelia. I'm knocked out. Cecelia is just knocked over. She runs and gets help. Joe, the maintenance man, uses a defibrillator on me because the electricity from the lightning stopped my heart. The electricity from the defibrillator starts it back up.

    I do remember the hospital and the black burns on my pale hands. I remember pretending to be asleep while Nana prayed next to my bed. I only stayed in the hospital 1 night. The doctors did all their tests. They said my heart took a 2- to 5-minute nap. (I hate that no one knows the exact number.) They said I was lucky and I'd be fine. Back to normal in a few days. But doctors are wrong sometimes.

    A week later, Nana and I were watching TV, and a commercial came on for a used-car dealership. The man was screaming, so I had to pay attention.

    "That's $359 a month for 48 months, folks." He was really loud. "Nobody beats Frank Fontana. Nobody."

    I yelled back, "17,232."

    "What?" Nana asked.

    "That's how much the car costs," I said.

    "Did you read it on the TV?"

    "I just know. 359 times 48 is 17,232."

    Nana frowned and shook her head. But then she got up and went to find a calculator.

    "What were those numbers again?" she asked.

    I told her, and she punched them in. "And the answer?"

    "17,232."

    "You're right." She sounded surprised. I wasn't surprised, but I guess I should have been. I mean, I was only in 2nd grade, and we were still learning addition and subtraction.

    Nana turned off the television.

    "What's 99 times 88?" she asked.

    "8,712. Can we have McDonald's for dinner?" I asked.

    Nana ignored me and asked another math problem and then another. She kept using bigger numbers, more digits. But it never got harder.

    The doctors call my condition acquired savant syndrome. Savant means that my math skills are far beyond normal, and acquired means I wasn't born with this wacky ability. I got it because I was holding a metal fence during a lightning storm. Cecelia didn't get any special powers. We stopped being friends soon after that. I was busy trying to understand my new brain, and in the fall Nana and I moved.

    Acquired savant syndrome is caused by brain damage. I can't say that in front of Nana. She thinks it's a miracle. My uncle Paul likes to think of it as a superpower, something from a comic book or a movie. But really, I'm brain damaged. Part of my left lobe has been turned off, and now my right lobe works overtime.

    My condition is really rare. I've never met anyone with it. It's even rarer in females,...

About the Author-
  • Stacy McAnulty is the author of many books for young readers, including chapter book series The Dino Files and GoldieBlox and picture books including Excellent Ed, 101 Reasons Why I'm NOT Taking a Bath, and Beautiful. The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl is her middle-grade debut. A former mechanical engineer, Stacy writes about math and science with authority. Visit her online at stacymcanulty.com or follow her on social media at:
    Twitter: @stacymcanulty
    Instagram: StacyMcAnulty
    Facebook: StacyMcAnultyAuthor
Reviews-
  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from February 1, 2018

    Gr 4-6-McAnulty (Brave) makes a big splash with this standalone novel. Twelve-year-old Lucy, a.k.a. Lightning Girl, has been homeschooled by her grandmother since she was eight; she's been a math genius ever since she was hit by lightning and survived. She also lives with OCD and has rituals that revolve around the number three. If she does not perform them, the numbers of Pi string out in her brain. "It's like getting a song stuck in your head... Incredibly annoying but beautiful." Since she can recite the numbers to the 314th decimal place, seeing them prevents her from concentrating on anything else. She mastered calculus and now wants to take college classes. Nana wants her to go to middle school for a year, make a new friend, try one new activity, and read a book that isn't about math-a tall order for the genius. Lucy is a unique and endearing character who readers will not soon forget. The school, social situations, and dialogue are spot on. Lucy's voice is distinct, and her intelligence and wry humor shine. Her love of math will be contagious even for math-phobes. Other characters, such as Nana, Uncle Paul, Windy, and Levi, are equally well drawn. Readers should be prepared to weep at a gut-punching turn of events near the end but will close the book with a satisfied sigh and a Lucy-sized place in their heart. VERDICT Prepare to fall in love. This outstanding story sensitively portrays a neuro-diverse main character and is not to be missed.-Brenda Kahn, Tenakill Middle School, Closter, NJ

    Copyright 2018 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    March 15, 2018
    1 math genius + 1 year of middle school = problems even the most gifted mind can't anticipate.Four years ago, 12-year-old Lucy Callahan was struck by lightning. The strike left her with brain damage, resulting in acquired savant syndrome and a "supercomputer brain." Lucy can solve any equation, recall every number she's ever heard or seen, and recite pi to the 314th decimal place (she doesn't allow herself to go beyond that). Lucy has finished school online and is ready for college, but her grandmother has a few conditions for Lucy to meet before she'll allow her to move on to higher education. (Nana is her guardian, her mother being dead and her father having split.) The reclusive Lucy has to develop her "soft skills": She has to attend middle school for 1 year, make 1 friend, and join 1 activity. Math is comfortably predictable; every problem has an answer if you know how to find it. But Lucy quickly realizes no formula can calculate the perils and pitfalls of public school. The multidimensional, highly likable Lucy's first-person narration is direct and unrestrained. In her first novel for middle graders, McAnulty (Max Explains Everything, 2018, etc.) eschews stylistic convention: All numbers are represented as numerals to allow readers to see the world the way Lucy does. Lucy is white, but she does not subscribe to the white default, observing and describing skin color evenhandedly. Unique and utterly satisfying. (author's note) (Fiction. 8-13)

    COPYRIGHT(2018) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from April 2, 2018
    When 12-year-old Lucy was struck by lightning at age eight, her brain was damaged, resulting in her acquired savant syndrome. She becomes a mathematical genius and develops obsessive-compulsive disorder; she’s been homeschooled ever since. She feels safe at home with her uncle and grandmother, but Nana wants Lucy to become better integrated with her peers and enrolls her in seventh grade. Lucy hides her math abilities to blend in, and she’s bullied by popular girl Maddie, but when she and another student, Windy, team up with classmate Levi for a community service project, a true friendship grows. The three help out at the Pet Hut, a no-kill shelter where Lucy, who has never liked animals, bonds with Cutie Pi. After Cutie Pi is diagnosed with cancer—which means that she will likely be transferred to a state shelter and put down—and Windy betrays Lucy by revealing a secret, Lucy must learn how to solve problems of the heart. McAnulty realistically portrays Lucy’s OCD, and her struggles in middle school also ring true. Every character is fully formed, and Lucy’s journey is beautifully authentic in this debut brimming with warmth, wisdom, and math. Ages 8–12. Agent: Lori Kilkelly, Rodeen Literary Management.

  • Kirkus Reviews, starred review "Unique and utterly satisfying."
  • School Library Journal, starred review "Prepare to fall in love."
  • Publishers Weekly, starred review "Lucy's journey is beautifully authentic in this debut brimming with warmth, wisdom, and math."
  • Kate Beasley, author of Gertie's Leap to Greatness "McAnulty's well-drawn cast of characters grapple with the difficulties of middle school, friendships, and life. An engaging story, full of heart and hope. Readers of all ages will root for Lucy, aka Lightning Girl. No miscalculations here!"
  • Barbara O'Connor, author of Wish "Fresh story, great characters, a winner!"
  • Alan Gratz author of Ban This Book and Refugee "The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl is calculated to steal your heart!"
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    Random House Children's Books
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