The Thing About Luck

The Thing About Luck

Book - 2013
Average Rating:
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Just when twelve-year-old Summer thinks nothing else can possibly go wrong in a year of bad luck, an emergency takes her parents to Japan, leaving Summer to care for her little brother while helping her grandmother cook and do laundry for harvest workers.
Publisher: New York : Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2013.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9781416918820
1416918825
Branch Call Number: J FIC KADO
Characteristics: p. cm.
Additional Contributors: Kuo, Julia - Illustrator

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SquamishLibraryStaff Sep 29, 2016

This National Book Award winner would appeal to readers of all ages. Narrated by Summer, a Japanese American pre-teen (or tween?) whose family travels the Midwest following work as combine harvesters. Summer is wise beyond her years, brave, compassionate, and observant. This book was funny, and a quick read, though it's also quite intelligent, and I enjoyed learning about wheat harvesting. Really! See for yourself.

r
read_freak
Aug 15, 2015

I could not put this book down it is amazing.It is about a girl and she has to learn to harvest and her grandparents take her and another family to lots of places to harvest.So her and her grandmother have to cook all the meals for the whole harvest.I hope there is a 2nd one. :)

j
julia_sedai
Dec 31, 2014

This book was interesting to me because it is about something I know nothing almost nothing about - harvesting. I didn't relate that well to the main character but I think that's mostly because I'm double her age and don't really remember what it is like to be 12. I laughed out loud a few times while reading. Summer's grandparents are great. It's written really well (I like all of Cynthia Kadohata's books) and I recommend it for pre-teens and teens.

k
killitoto
Sep 28, 2014

this is such a great book i recomend this book because I read this in 2nd grade. I was 6 when i was in second grade. I hope you enjoy this book.

litriocht Jun 23, 2014

Twelve-year-old Summer and her younger brother, Jaz, are under the care of her grandparents for the duration of this year's harvest season. Summer's parents, who would ordinarily be in charge, have been dispatched to Japan for the summer to take care of elderly relatives. The unexpected trip to Japan is not the only piece of bad luck the family has endured recently. Earlier in the year, Summer almost died due to a rare case of malaria that she acquired from a mosquito bite. As a result, Summer has developed an intense fear of mosquitoes. She habitually drenches herself in DEET and attempts to avoid mosquitoes.

Gathering ripe wheat is a time-sensitive task, so the drivers of harvesting vehicles must work extremely long days to reap the crop before it spoils. When Jiichan, the grandfather, becomes too ill to drive for an entire workday, the family becomes worried that they will be fired. Another solution simply must be found or their mortgage will go unpaid. Despite her phobia of nighttime insects that bite, Summer summons the courage to drive a combine in Jiichan's place.

Arguments and conversations are portrayed with humor. Summer feels close to Jiichan, but is constantly challenged by her interactions with Obaachan, her grandmother, and Jaz. Jiichan and Obaachan bicker like siblings, full of love for each other despite their trivial arguments. As Summer's mom phrases it, if you have been in a marriage for "that number of years, you no longer had to be polite all the time" (5). In fact, all Summer's family relationships portrayed in this book are like that: not especially polite, but supportive nonetheless. Just as Summer gets advice from her elders, her younger brother asks her complicated questions about life.

Quirky relatives are a prominent feature of this book. One of the most droll aspects of the way Kadohata portrays family life is found in the adults' tendency to tell outright lies to the children for didactic purposes. Ken Jennings wrote a book, Because I Said So! : The Truth Behind the Myths, Tales and Warnings Every Generation Passes Down to its Kids, in which he debunks well-meaning lies that older generations tell younger generations. In The Thing about Luck, this type of prevarication is amusingly strewn throughout the plot. For instance, when Summer and Jaz are invited to drink a soda, they refuse "because Obaachan said bubbly things make little explosions inside of children, which can kill you eventually" (170). Perhaps I find this aspect of the novel especially hilarious because the elders in my family are guilty of this behavior; one such lie was that my grandparents' miniature poodle bit off the first joint of my grandfather's finger. In any event, read this book if you enjoy cantankerous grandparent characters.

JCLChrisK May 19, 2014

I am from Kansas wheat county and would describe many of my favorite books as character-driven, understated, and/or subtle, yet I found this to have an excess of all of those features. It tells a quiet story focused on characters from Kansas working to harvest wheat, and reading it was pleasant enough, I just think the book's appeal is too niche and there wasn't enough story there for it to be more than quietly pleasant. The National Book Award committee obviously enjoyed and admired it, and the writing is admirable; I'm just having trouble imagining many 10-12 year-olds feeling the same way.

j
joywolf83
Jan 30, 2014

I think us of the American culture won't understand this book. It seems written for an Asian girl. Which is beautiful. Story of a Japanese girl who helps her family. Gives insight into the Midwest with farming and combining. Not my personal favorite but it definitely has a niche audience that will appreciate her quiet voice.

a
AlizontheAmazon
Jan 08, 2014

When I first started this book I didn't really like it and put it down many times before powering through, but I ended up getting to a point where I did like it. I have to say I'm not sure how many kids would read it and if they did how many could get through it and get a lot out of it.

I think this book does have a lot to offer. I've described it to people as a quiet book. There are a lot of things going on from cultural customs, to Jaz's undiagnosed psychological problems, to the big issues about love and relationships. I think this book is worth the read, but you have to really try.

I loved Summer's obsession with Mosquitos. I thought her connection with them after they almost kill her was a really fascinating and unique way to bring up death that you don't normally see in children's books.

m2 Dec 13, 2013

Well, I am not so good with "slice of life" books; I keep thinking, "so?". Nor would I call this the best middle grade fiction of the year. But there is something so pungently real about this girl and her autistic brother and her immigrant grandparents; that the final rite de passage is the driving of a combine at night is so unexpected and yet so strong!

Recommended to all the girls who aren't the most beautiful or coolest in school, all those strong women looking for companions on the way to "courage".

M

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lbnemi
Jun 17, 2017

lbnemi thinks this title is suitable for 9 years and over

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blue_llama_238
Jul 15, 2016

blue_llama_238 thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 9 and 15

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burgundy_baboon_94
Jan 10, 2016

burgundy_baboon_94 thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 9 and 12

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