Girl of the Year 2018: Luciana out of This World

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


Luci is excited to be able to visit her cousins in Chile, and introduce them to her new sister Izzy. She can hardly wait to settle into her old routines with her extended family. But when she arrives, she finds that her cousins have bonded more with each other and are too busy for their usual antics. They don't cut her out completely, but they have their own private jokes that she doesn't get because she lives so far away, and one evening they're all going to spend the night at a friend's house without her; that sort of thing. So when Claire shows up with an opportunity to spend 36 hours in the Atacama Desert observing real astronaut training, Luci decides to go. She's still not quite sold on Claire's trustworthiness, but she figures seeing her dream job in person instead of feeling ignored by her cousins is worth the risk.

The astronaut training is incredible. But Luci is still a pre-teen, and when she impulsively tries to help with some samples, she accidentally contaminates them. The astronauts have to head back out to the sample site again, leaving Luci and Claire on their own in the desert habitat (because, as so often happens, Claire's father had to leave to attend to business). Luci is still trying to make the best of things (the astronauts-in-training were very understanding), but Claire is in a funk, missing her dad.

Suddenly, none of that seems important. There's a huge earthquake. Luci ends up trapped under a piece of furniture. Claire helps her out, but has a head wound herself. And there's a fire in part of the habitat. The girls are able to put it out and keep themselves safe during the hours it takes for the astronauts-in-training and Claire's father to return.

Claire and her father take Luci home before heading to a hospital to get Claire evaluated (at one point Luci had a hurt arm but that kinda just...doesn't go anywhere). Luci learns that her grandmother's house, so full of memories, is damaged beyond repair. In talking with one of her cousins about how to help their grandmother, Luci realizes she never bothered to ask her cousins what was happening in their lives. She was too busy talking about her own. That's why she felt left out. Working together, the cousins set up a family party with sentimental things from their grandmother's house, creating new memories together.


Dedicated to Kaelyn, Olivia, Kaia, and Addison.

Luci is awakened by doves cooing. When I lived in Honolulu, zebra doves were the first thing I heard every morning.

Luci and Izzy are bilingual, speaking Spanish at home and English in public.

Head wounds always bleed a lot because of how many blood vessels are in the head. While you should get big cuts looked at, it might not be as bad as it looks.

It's perfectly fine, and even recommended, to sleep if you're concussed. Provided you can hold a conversation and have no other neurological symptoms like sudden trouble walking or dilated pupils, it's not dangerous to sleep. You need cognitive rest as well as physical rest too; don't strain your brain. (Of course, seek medical attention when you can.)

It might be too late for Claire to get stitches. You typically have six to eight hours after an injury. Some injuries that need further treatment can get stitches up to 24 hours later.

Chile had an 8.8 earthquake for real, in 2010. More than 500 people died.

The strongest earthquake ever recorded was in Chile. May 22, 1960, southern Chile was hit with a 9.5 earthquake.

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