STARRED REVIEW
May 2017

Fortune-telling and guardian owls

By Melanie Crowder
Review by

Three Pennies by Melanie Crowder is a gorgeously told orphan’s tale, with an old-fashioned ring that pairs with modern elements to create a fast-moving, carefully structured plot.

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Three Pennies by Melanie Crowder is a gorgeously told orphan’s tale, with an old-fashioned ring that pairs with modern elements to create a fast-moving, carefully structured plot.

Eleven-year-old Marin Greene lives in a foster home in San Francisco where she tries to tell her fortune using the I Ching book that once belonged to her mother, who abandoned Marin at age 4. When a single, lesbian surgeon named Dr. Lucy Chang hopes to adopt Marin, the preteen becomes more determined than ever to reunite with her birth mother, despite the appeal of this extraordinarily kind, loving physician.

With short chapters that keep the action rolling, the story unfolds from multiple viewpoints that include Marin, Dr. Lucy and Gilda, a hardworking social worker who gives readers an informative peek into the thorny world of foster care. Marin also has a guardian angel in the form of an owl who watches her carefully, adding yet another uniquely wise voice to the mix.

Neither Marin’s nor Dr. Lucy’s life has gone as planned (the doctor loved a woman who died), but when an earthquake strikes, they realize that they’ve found each other. Three Pennies is an enjoyable reminder that despite the many “topsy-turvy changes that come with this life,” unexpected guardians are often waiting to guide us.

This article was originally published in the May 2017 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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Three Pennies

Three Pennies

By Melanie Crowder
Atheneum
ISBN 9781481471879

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