Displaying a lively familiarity with the topics of makeup, makeovers and adolescent angst, Greenwald makes a bright debut with this timely story. Prospects look grim for the Old Mill Pharmacy run by 12-year-old Lucy’s mother and grandmother. In order to drum up more sales, Lucy decides to offer customers beauty tips and free makeup applications. Although her efforts prove somewhat fruitful, her best idea comes after she joins her school’s earth club: what if they add an eco-spa to the pharmacy? Like the recent Teashop Girls, also about an enterprising preteen trying to save a family business, this novel takes an upbeat approach to serious issues-money struggles and impending foreclosure-underscoring the optimistic message that one individual can make a difference. Ages 10-14. (Mar.)
Kirkus Reviews, STARRED
When 12-year old Lucy learns the family pharmacy might close, she decides to attract customers using her preternatural knowledge of make-up application and products. When not giving the homecoming queen lip-gloss advice and booking appointments, Lucy helps her best friend Sunny deal with the many mini-mortifications of a first crush. The squeals, giggles and tiffs between these best buds teetering on adolescence allow readers a glimpse of true tweendom. Boys still seem mysterious, like aliens, and to Lucy they remain more annoying than infatuating. Preteens will enjoy Lucy’s sweet first-person narrative, a disarming combination of innocence and earnestness. She feels sick of adults patronizing her and treating her like a little kid, particularly her flaky mom and no-nonsense grandma. A Going Green grant for local businesses seems a perfect way to make the pharmacy relevant again and prove that she should be taken seriously. Greenwald clearly takes preteens seriously, emphasizing their ardent concern for the environment and desire for change. This refreshing novel successfully delivers an authentic and endearing portrait of the not-quite-teen experience. (Fiction. 9-13)
After 12-year-old Lucy spots a foreclosure warning in the mail, she realizes that the small-town Connecticut pharmacy owned and run by her mother and grandmother is in jeopardy. While Mom and Grandma argue about how to handle the crisis, Lucy, an aspiring makeup artist, joins her school’s Earth Club, researches green businesses, and hatches a plan to expand the pharmacy into an eco-spa. Many young readers will recognize likable Lucy’s frustrations (“I can’t wait for the day when adults take kids seriously”), as well as her growing excitement, all expressed in an utterly believable voice: “The Earth would be healthier just because of us . . . Like, my heart beats really fast when I think about it.” Tales of young entrepreneurs featuring wish-fulfilling plots of young people gaining power have perennial appeal. This story of a family coping with dramatic financial strain may have particular resonance in the current climate, and Greenwald deftly blends eco-facts and makeup tips, friendship and family dynamics, and spot-on middle-school politics into a warm, uplifting debut. — Gillian Engberg
School Library Journal
Gr 4-6–Lucy Desberg, 12, spends most of her free time at her family’s pharmacy. It was once a popular hangout for fountain treats in their small Connecticut town, but the emergence of a large chain store has put the pharmacy in danger of foreclosure. Lucy overhears her practical grandmother and somewhat disengaged, eco-activist mom arguing about what to do, and she is determined to come up with a solution. When the high school’s Homecoming queen rushes in sporting a hair disaster on the day of the big dance, Lucy bravely suggests how to fix the problem. A star is born when the products she suggests work, word spreads of Lucy’s talents, and more and more young women seek her advice. Meanwhile, she and her older sister apply for a grant to be awarded by the mayor to locally owned businesses that are “going green.” Greenwald has created a smart, spunky heroine with ingenuity and budding femininity. A natural beauty or business tip introduces each chapter. These helpful hints are age appropriate and environmentally current. Readers will enjoy the realistic portrayal of middle school friendships, crushes, and coming-of-age beauty concerns.
–D. Maria LaRocco, Cuyahoga Public Library, Strongsville, OH