LUCY’S IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD: A NOVEL OF MAINE by David M. Carew; Maine Authors Publishing, 2022; 169 pages, $16.95; ISBN 978-1-63381-313-7.


It’s 2020, and 64-year-old unmarried Lucy Bouchier owns and operates a Waterville pizza and sandwich joint named “Lucy’s in the Neighborhood.” She’s a beloved character in the neighborhood. And then one night after closing she sees a mysterious man in the street, someone she recognizes from her past. She can’t believe her eyes, the image disappears and then the memories return.
Author David Carew lives in Waterville and this is his third novel, a well-structured and carefully plotted combination of murder mystery, teenage coming-of-age and social commentary. Carew cleverly tells this story in alternating flashbacks mixing 1972 and 2020, as the mysterious man in the street inspires Lucy’s long-suppressed memories of high school and the shameful events that occurred in 1972.
Carew’s movement from 2020 back and forth to 1972 is smooth, almost seamless, as Lucy confides in her best friend Jasmine, telling of her high-school sweetheart Will, his friendship with Mo, a Black student, and a crime that shocked the town, confounded the police and brought racism and bigotry to Waterville.
Lucy tells Jasmine everything she remembers of that year, especially her tender teenage romance with Will and his desire for social justice; Mo’s struggle with prejudice and accusation; Mo’s father who hates whites; the disgusting shopkeeper who loves George Wallace and hates everybody else; and the dedicated police detective trying to solve a crime with no clues, no evidence, no motive and no real suspects.
She recalls things only got worse for everyone when someone planted evidence to frame an innocent person, and someone else sends the police in a false direction. The year 1972 ends badly for everyone, marked by sadness, disappointment and separation, but Lucy finally meets the mysterious man in the street. Or does she?
Mr. Pottle is the town dump man, always trying to recycle useful items people throw away. He saves every book tossed out, believing: “Books are treasures. You don’t throw away treasures!”

THE MAN WHO SAVED BOOKS by Lynn Plourde; Down East Books, 2022; 32 pages, $18.95; ISBN 978-1-68475-054-2.

This heartwarming children’s book (for ages 6-8 years) is by award-winning Winthrop author Lynn Plourde, and illustrated by Walpole artist Mary Beth Owens. Mr. Pottle is right — nobody should throw away books! He rescues books from the dump and creates his own lending library available to everybody in town.
Adults worry about his passion for books, but children love him for it. One day he is injured taking books to needy people, and is bedridden for recovery. Parents and children bring him cooked meals and loads of books, but are surprised when they discover he cannot read. The children have the answer for that, showing the power of compassion, friendship and books.
Astrid Sheckels is a rare combination of successful writer and illustrator of award-winning children’s books, producing whimsical, exciting stories and beautifully detailed full-color illustrations for ages 4-8 years. This is the second book in her Hector Fox series.
Hector Fox and his woodland friends, Lucy Skunk, Mo Marten, Charlie Chipmunk and Jeremiah Rabbit receive an urgent plea for help from the three mice who guard the Stone Tower deep in the Green Wood. The only clues are a single black feather and a reference to the fearful Raven’s Revenge.
Ravens fill the sky when the five pals arrive at the Stone Tower, and hear the mice tell the scary story of the Raven’s Revenge. Hector Fox and friends investigate strange sounds and another black feather inside the tower, but everyone quickly learns that often things are never as bad as they seem. Delightfully entertaining.

HECTOR FOX AND THE RAVEN’S REVENGE by Astrid Sheckels; Islandport Press, 2022; 32 pages, $18.95; ISBN 978-1-952143-34-2.

Bill Bushnell lives and writes in Harpswell.

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