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September 15, 2014

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Pick of the Day: The Thing About Luck

star Pick of the Day: The Thing About Luckthe thing about luck Pick of the Day: The Thing About LuckKADOHATA, Cynthia. The Thing About Luck. illus. by Julia Kuo. 288p. S & S/Atheneum. June 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4169-1882-0; ebook $9.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-7467-3. LC 2012021287.
Gr 5-8
–Fans of Kadohata’s Kira-Kira (S & S, 2004) will welcome this similarly gentle, character-driven exploration of familial bonds, this time set in the contemporary Midwest. With their parents called away to care for relatives in Japan, 12-year-old Summer and her younger brother, Jaz, accompany their grandparents, performing the grueling work that comes with the harvest season. In her likable voice, Summer observes the varying excitement, tedium, and challenges of harvesting wheat, sprinkling her narration with casual turns of phrase such as “OMG” and “epic fail” that will endear her to readers. Strong family ties suffuse this novel with a tremendous amount of heart. Though Summer’s brother has been diagnosed with a number of disorders, she prefers to think of him as simply “intense,” and, like most siblings, is alternately protective of and annoyed by his idiosyncrasies. Her grandparents, comically strict Obaachan and kindly Jiichan, bring warmth and humor with their cultural and generational differences. Kadohata expertly captures the uncertainties of the tween years as Summer navigates the balance of childlike concerns with the onset of increasingly grown-up responsibilities. She ponders the fragility of life after a brush with death from malaria, experiences newfound yearnings upon becoming preoccupied with a boy, and bravely steps up to save the day when her grandfather falls ill. The book’s leisurely pace and extensive information about grain harvesting require some amount of patience from readers, but their investment will be rewarded by Summer’s satisfying journey to self-actualization.–Allison Tran, Mission Viejo Library, CA

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