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The Thing About Luck by Cynthia Kadohata
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The Thing About Luck

by Cynthia Kadohata

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2942138,184 (3.56)1 / 10

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Summary: Just when twelve-year-old Summer thinks nothing else can possibly go wring 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 for harvest workers. Summer continues to endure bad "luck" as she encounters a young boy who, at first, appeared to be a friend but later develops into a bothersome relationship.

Personal reaction: This book, while an easy read, has a specific audience that can truly appreciate the struggled detailed in Summer's twelve-year-old life. For other readers who are "coming of age" this book can certainly be relatable, and possibly for some adults who wish to revisit nostalgic feelings. However, what set's this book apart is it's unique perspective of a young girl struggling with very "adult-like" worries in a cultural setting. In this sense, this book is far more educational (culturally speaking) than for those wishing to directly relate to the main character.

Classroom extension: I would incorporate this book into ethnic and cultural studies with a classroom setting. The added benefit of life-lessons such as problem solving and handling adversity are a bonus to the cultural cuisine offered in this book. ( )
  Ali.Simon | Dec 12, 2016 |
This is a beautifully written book that no child or teen will read. ( )
  EmilyRokicki | Feb 26, 2016 |
This was an enjoyable read because it revisits a typical coming-of-age story in an setting and cultural unfamiliar to many of us but depicts the universality of the experience.
In Montana, this book could be a good addition to an agriculture unit because of its depiction of harvesting crews.
  Sheila.Bonnand | Feb 12, 2016 |
This was a story that actually grew on me the more I read it. The 12 year old narrator's voice was, perhaps, too realistic for me. ( )
  lillibrary | Jan 23, 2016 |
To view an annotated bibliography of this title written for EDLI200, expand the spoiler entry below:


Categories/Genres:
Middle-Grade
Young Adult
Modern Realistic Fiction
Humor
Drama

Estimated age level of interest:
Middle Grades

Estimated reading level:
Grade 4-5

Brief description:
Summer, an adolescent, Japanese American girl, travels through the American heartland with her grandparents as they work as members of a crew of migrant laborers harvesting wheat fields. Along the way, she learns about life, love, and herself.

At least 2 characteristics of this genre and subgenre and how they appear in this book:
While the plots of modern realistic fiction novels often tackle some difficult situations, skilled authors are able to use humor appropriately to (as Chance’s text puts it) “alleviate the weight of tragic or serious circumstances”. In “The Thing About Luck”, Summer’s circumstances are undesirable to say the least. She has survived a statistically improbable bout with malaria, her parents have travelled to Japan to care for dying relatives, her family home is in danger of foreclosure if she and her grandparents aren’t able to work all summer and earn money for the mortgage, and her grandfather’s health is failing to the point that he may not be able to complete his work driving a combine to harvest the wheat. But through all of this, the author uses situational humor to keep the story generally light-hearted and enjoyable. The culture gap between American-born Summer and her Japanese immigrant grandparents results in some hilarious conversations and misunderstandings, Summer’s younger brother Jaz, with his odd quirks and obsessive behaviors, provides spontaneous levity amid dire circumstances, and even Summer’s own acknowledgement of how silly her phobia of mosquitoes allows her, as the narrator, to poke fun at herself.

Directly related to the use of humor in this book is another common characteristic of modern realistic fiction: the portrayal of character with diverse ethnic, cultural, and socio-economic backgrounds who hold different values, perspectives, and opinions concerning the world and the people in it. As members of a migrant work crew for the summer, Summer and her family encounter plenty of diversity. They meet workers from Ireland and other countries, middle class business owners, successful large-scale wheat farmers, compassionate adults, shallow teens, and every variety of character that falls in the middle of this mix. Race, culture, social status, a full spectrum of diversity is on display in this book and provides an opportunity for the reader to consider the world from a different angle.

In what ways and how well does the book as a whole serve its intended audience?
I think the most useful aspect of this book is that it forces young readers to see the world from an unfamiliar perspective. Summer’s family, living situation, and cultural background will be completely alien to most adolescents and require them to consider how diverse the people they encounter truly are. But, at the same time, summer experiences many events and emotions that will feel familiar to the reader, such as her first love, first kiss, fear of failure, conflicting emotions of love and annoyance toward her younger sibling, lingering fear of facing something that once harmed her, and confronting the mortality of one’s self and one’s family. In this way, “The Thing About Luck” makes the reader simultaneously appreciate those things that make us all unique and those which make us so very similar.

Awards, if any:
National Book Award in the Young People’s Literature 2013

Links to published, professional reviews, if any:
Editorial reviews available through…

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1442474653?ie=UTF8&isInIframe=1&n=28315...

Titlewave:
http://www.titlewave.com/search?SID=850b167e010758c576cd4aaa33596706

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-thing-about-luck-cynthia-kadohata/1113521062


( )
  nphill85 | Oct 12, 2015 |
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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.… (more)

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