Girl of the Year 2018: Luciana Braving the Deep

Published: 2018. Author: Erin Teagan. Illustrator: Suzanne LaGasa


Luci is about to embark on another adventure. She and Ella are two of six kids selected for a youth astronaut training camp on the Atlantic coast. Like the last time she was preparing for being the first girl on Mars, her sister Izzy will be dealing with her own things. Izzy will be undergoing heart surgery to correct her birth defect. Luci's parents promise to keep her posted while she's away at her once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

At the camp, Luci and Ella learn that the six kids will be competing to see which three of them will spend time in an underwater habitat known as Cetus. They will need to show that they can perform certain tasks and demonstrate that they can safely dive and work with scuba gear. Luci is sure that one participant, Claire, will be a shoe-in. Her father is a famous entrepreneur, and has done work to help astronauts on the International Space Station. Claire tells Luci how she's gone with her father to various exotic locations and been able to try many skills most people never have a chance to. Luci is impressed, and Ella is even a bit star-struck.

The veneer wears off quickly for Luci. She notices holes in Claire's stories, like how she'll say "I did X! Well, almost. I got to see someone else do it." Ella is having trouble with part of the swimming skills test, and Claire offers to help her improve. But when Claire is timing Ella (she has to tread water for a set time), Claire drops the stopwatch, invalidating the time. Luci thinks it was on purpose, to knock Ella out of the competition. Ella thinks Luci didn't learn her lesson about being suspicious from Space Camp, but Luci just can't shake the feeling that something's wrong. During another skills test, Claire leaves Luci stranded underwater. Luci is able to get out, but she could have drowned. She's understandably scared and mad. Claire tries to play it off as an accident (which was a bad enough mistake), but she soon admits she was so wrapped up thinking only of herself that she was able to justify her decision. She also admits to dropping the stopwatch on purpose.

The camp directors take Claire out of the running for Cetus, but don't send her home. For one, they want everyone to learn about teamwork when you can't just leave, like in space. And also...Claire's dad is away and no one else can pick her up. Claire does apologize, but no one blames the other kids for being a bit distant from her. In the end, Luci and Ella are chosen to go down to Cetus along with a boy named Thomas. As she enters the airlock below the water, Luci ends up having a panic attack. Claire redeems herself some by talking her through it (over a radio). Luci is able to complete the underwater mission, learning while she's down there that Izzy's surgery was a success.


Dedicated to Meredith, Mikaela, Sofia, and Molly.

Claire's father, Lance Jacobs, seems to be an expy of Elon Musk, at least in terms of innovation. I don't know enough about his personal life to know how he might be as a father. Lance Jacobs is usually too busy to spend time with her daughter, and since Claire's mother is dead, she gets shuttled off to nannies and camps a lot.

I wish there had been more about Luci and her family getting to know Izzy after the adoption.

Here is a website for spotting the International Space Station: NASA.

No comments: