Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Fiction Review: Lucky Turtle

I talked a lot this spring about Booktopia, a unique annual event held in Vermont every May that brings authors and readers together. While I read most of the Booktopia selections before the event, so I could discuss them there, one book, Lucky Turtle by Bill Roorbach, was just being released that week. So, I bought a copy at Northshire Bookstore, where Booktopia is held, and saved it for Big Book Summer. I read it last month and absolutely loved this moving, delightful story of love and friendship, set against the beauty of nature.

Sixteen-year-old Cindra gets into some big trouble in her hometown in Massachusetts. She goes along with her older boyfriend and his brother on a revenge mission, and the three of them get arrested for theft and assault. The boys get sent to prison and juvie, but since this is Cindra's first offense, she's a good student, and her guidance counselor speaks on her behalf, the judge at her hearing sentences her to two years at Camp Challenge, a remote reform camp for girls in the Montana wilderness. Soon after, Cindra is shipped off to Montana and emerges into another world. Montana is rugged but beautiful, and Cindra has always enjoyed nature. It's a big adjustment, though, and she's not allowed to communicate at all with her parents. Those first weeks are rough for Cindra, though she begins to get to know some of the other girls. She also discovers that there are abuses occurring at the camp and does her best to speak out, though it doesn't go well. There's a handsome, quiet young man working there named Lucky, and rumors about him abound among the girls, including one rumor that he's mute. He drives Cindra to town for laundry duty, and on the way back, Cindra finds out that Lucky is not mute, but his first words to her are quite startling.

And that's all I'm going to tell you about the plot of this unique novel; all of that happens in the first chapters. Cindra's and Lucky's stories unwind across decades in unexpected ways, and this is one of those novels best experienced as it happens. In fact, I think the description of the book on the jacket (which, thankfully, I didn't read until I was more than halfway through the book) is loaded with spoilers, and I recommend avoiding it. This is a novel about love, friendship, and motherhood, but it is all set against a gorgeous natural backdrop. In fact, nature plays a huge role in the characters' lives, even when they are living in cities and not in Montana. The characters themselves are fully developed, interesting, and likable. Lucky's history and background remain a mystery for much of the book, providing one of the many enticing secrets in this story. It is loaded with adventure and suspense but also romance, longing, and joy. Reading this novel was a delightful experience that I never wanted to end; I still miss the characters.

404 pages, Algonquin

This book fits in the following 2022 Reading Challenges:

Mount TBR Challenge

Monthly Motif Challenge - Summer Lovin' - Having a Blast

Diversity Challenge 

Literary Escapes Challenge - Montana

Big Book Summer Challenge

Note: This post contains affiliate links. Purchases from these links provide a small commission to me (pennies per purchase), to help offset the time I spend writing for this blog, at no extra cost to you.

Visit my YouTube Channel for more bookish fun!


Listen to a sample of the audiobook here, from the start of the novel as Cindra (read by Brittany Pressley) narrates, and/or download it from Audible.


You can buy the book through, where your purchase will support the indie bookstore of your choice (or all indie bookstores)--the convenience of shopping online while still buying local!


Or you can order Lucky Turtle from Book Depository, with free shipping worldwide.