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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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3692645,737 (3.61)1 / 10
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.

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Summer is 12 years old when she hits the road with her younger brother (who seems to be autistic, though it's never specified) and her aged grandparents, who are working as wheat harvesters. The harvesting company moves from farm to farm, running the combines and bringing in the wheat, which must be done quickly when the time is right.
Summer has difficulty relating to her grandmother, who is bossy, opinionated, and determined to always be right. Her brother is always difficult. On top of that, she's trying to navigate her first crush (on the boss's son), the other harvesters, who aren't all easy to deal with, and her grandfather becoming seriously ill.
It is a beautiful coming-of-age story which, in addition to leaving you with all the warm feelings you should have after a superb novel, will also leave you knowing more about wheat harvesting than you ever thought you would know. ( )
  fingerpost | Aug 27, 2019 |
I just finished this title and my first impression is that it is a fine girl's coming-of-age novel. The 11-year-old protagonist, Summer, is recovering from malaria (contracted via a rogue mosquito) and is simultaneously horrified by and drawn to (literally, she draws careful pictures of them) her insecticidal near-killer. Her brother, Jaz, who suffers from an unnamed disorder (OCD? ADHD?) which causes him to be both difficult to live with and nearly friendless, and she are left in the care of their grandparents while their parents return to Japan to attend to ailing relatives.

Obaasan and Jiisan, whose English as a second language is faithfully rendered, are stricter than their grandparents and must emerge from retirement to work as itinerant wheat harvesters, driving semis and combines throughout the middle of the country. The kids go along, and hard work, learning and a spark of romance ensue. The story is more involving as Summer's voice develops. The grandmother, Obassan, is gruff, loving and funny ("'Summer, you make one more trouble, my head explode and you guilty of murder." p. 58) and Jiisan is reserved and wise, alternating pithy before-bed stories with amusing statements ("'I got very bad feel about Teflon,'" Jiichan said. 'Teflon invented by someone who care more about easy than good.'" p.122)

The story is touching and enjoyable, albeit uneven. Overall, I would readily recommend it to a middle reader who enjoys stories with a touch of the familiar and the unfamiliar. ( )
  msmilton | Jul 18, 2018 |
I just finished this title and my first impression is that it is a fine girl's coming-of-age novel. The 11-year-old protagonist, Summer, is recovering from malaria (contracted via a rogue mosquito) and is simultaneously horrified by and drawn to (literally, she draws careful pictures of them) her insecticidal near-killer. Her brother, Jaz, who suffers from an unnamed disorder (OCD? ADHD?) which causes him to be both difficult to live with and nearly friendless, and she are left in the care of their grandparents while their parents return to Japan to attend to ailing relatives.

Obaasan and Jiisan, whose English as a second language is faithfully rendered, are stricter than their grandparents and must emerge from retirement to work as itinerant wheat harvesters, driving semis and combines throughout the middle of the country. The kids go along, and hard work, learning and a spark of romance ensue. The story is more involving as Summer's voice develops. The grandmother, Obassan, is gruff, loving and funny ("'Summer, you make one more trouble, my head explode and you guilty of murder." p. 58) and Jiisan is reserved and wise, alternating pithy before-bed stories with amusing statements ("'I got very bad feel about Teflon,'" Jiichan said. 'Teflon invented by someone who care more about easy than good.'" p.122)

The story is touching and enjoyable, albeit uneven. Overall, I would readily recommend it to a middle reader who enjoys stories with a touch of the familiar and the unfamiliar. ( )
  msmilton | Jul 18, 2018 |
• Theme: The theme of this story is taking control of your life and not letting life happen to you. It is so easy to be overwhelmed by life’s events and let them control your life. However, it is important to take control, change your luck, and make what you want to happen, happen.
• Support for the theme: The first support of this theme is that Summer is constantly trying to change her luck, and although she gets in trouble, she tries again. Second, Summer’s grandfather told her “always keep eye open for special weed, you both special weed”. He told her this after telling her a story of how he would pull weeds and the next dqay there would be more and it seemed like bad luck. But, one day he saw an unfamiliar weed and even though he got in trouble he planted and nourished that weed. This helped his family have the best tasting orange crops ever and brought his family more fortune. Even though this could have been ignored because of his bad luck with weeds, he worked hard, and changed his luck.
This book can be used in a lesson to show that if you want to know more, and be more, then you have to take charge and make that change happen whether it's with reading, spelling, making friends, or manners. ( )
  FallonJohnston | Apr 23, 2018 |
Beautiful. ( )
  michelleannlib | Jul 25, 2017 |
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Book description
Teens (grades 6+)
KA 24
2013
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