REVIEWED BY DAVID M. KINCHEN
Margaret O’Malley, the feisty protagonist in “Saving Lucas Biggs” (HarperCollins Children’s Books, 288 pages, $16.99, suitable for ages 8-12 — and adults) will do anything to save her father from a death sentence….even if it means breaking a family taboo and traveling back 76 years to change history.
Authors Marisa de los Santos and David Teague, a married couple, are outstanding in their portrayal of 13-year-old Margaret and her pal Charlie and everybody else in a book aimed at young readers that teens and adults will enjoy, too.
Margaret knows her father, whistleblower John Thomas O’Malley, is innocent, but that doesn’t stop the cruel Judge Lucas Biggs from sentencing him to death. John O’Malley, a geologist for Victory Fuels Corp., in the company town of Victory, Ariz., has been convicted of arson and the murder of a man inside the lab he’s accused of torching.
Margaret is determined to save her dad, even if it means using her family’s secret—and forbidden—ability to time travel. With the help of her best friend, Charlie, and his grandpa Josh, Margaret goes back to a time when Judge Biggs was a young boy and tries to prevent the chain of events that transformed him into a corrupt, jaded man. But with the forces of history working against her, will Margaret be able to change the past? Or will she be pushed back to a present in which her father is still doomed?
Back in 1938, the town is in the midst of a bitter strike by coal miners. It’s reminiscent of the mine wars of West Virginia and also an event that resonates in the history of Colorado and American labor relations: the Ludlow Massacre of April 20, 1914.
On that date, some two dozen people in a tent colony of striking workers forced out of their company housing in Ludlow, Colo. were killed by members of the Colorado National guard and “camp guards” of the Colorado Fuel & Iron Co., controlled by John D. Rockefeller Jr. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ludlow_Massacre
Told in alternating voices between Margaret and Josh, “Saving Lucas Biggs” shows that sometimes the forces of good need a little extra help to triumph over the forces of evil. This is a good lesson for young readers — and older ones and adult alike.
About the authors
Marisa de los Santos: “I became a writer because I love the sound and texture of words (current favorite consonant sounds: Ls and hard Cs) and love to hear what happens when they bump up against each other. I was a poet for a long time (my first book is a collection of poetry called FROM THE BONES OUT), and then, one day, unexpectedly, I found that I had a voice inside my head. As you might imagine, this was a bit alarming. However, in time, I discovered that the voice belonged to a character named Cornelia Brown, so I wrote a novel called LOVE WALKED IN about her and an eleven-year old girl named Clare. After that, I became addicted to writing novels. I wrote a second one called BELONG TO ME, and my third, FALLING TOGETHER, came out on October 4th, 2011. I’m now working on a fourth, tentatively titled THE PRECIOUS ONE. I live with my husband, children’s book author David Teague, and our two kids, Charles and Annabel, in lovely Wilmington, Delaware.” This is their first collaborative book.