Azza Amari is not the usual sort of freshman at Northwestern Ohio State College, a commuter college without an international student program, dormitories, or a meal plan. However, her father, desperate to get her to safety in America, managed to scrape up enough money to pay for four years of tuition up front. Therefore, she is duly enrolled – but her hijab makes her the center of some unpleasant, even potentially deadly, attention. Meanwhile, Kip Beckelhymer, a high school senior, history buff, and junior member of the Board of Governors of the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library and Museums, is facing a breakup with his girlfriend Birdie and a crisis at the museum – artifacts have gone missing just before the museum inventory is due. When Kip is hired to drive Azza to and from campus, the two of them, plus Kip’s best friend Ry and new museum docent Colby, form an unlikely friendship- but can they maintain it long enough to solve all their problems?
I AM LEMONADE LUCY! is an entertaining adventure and a warmhearted coming-of-age story, with a bittersweet message about prejudice, common human bonds, and forgiveness in the face of bigotry and cruelty. Azza’s determination, courage, and not least her subtle and mischievous sense of humor are quite appealing, as are Kip’s geeky charm and good heart. The story is alternately quirky and deadly serious, veering back and forth between the madcap search for the missing plaster pear and the very real threats to Azza’s life and security. In the end, both Kip and Azza have to figure out who they are and what they are really looking for, and the results are by and large satisfying. Some aspects of the plot are a bit formulaic and predictable, and a few feel almost contrived, but the lively writing style keeps the book feeling fresh, entertaining, and quite readable. And while this isn’t really a book to read for deep thought-provoking insights on racism or cultural relations, it does have a lot to say about personal identity in the face of social pressure to conform, and about the continual struggle to respond to hatred without becoming hateful oneself.
Readers looking for an amusing diversion with some serious heart to it will find that I AM LEMONADE LUCY! fits the bill nicely.
~Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader