The Thing about Luck

by Cynthia Kadohata and Julia Kuo

Twelve-year-old Summer and her younger brother, Jaz, live in Kansas, but spend months... read more

Twelve-year-old Summer and her younger brother, Jaz, live in Kansas, but spend months every year on the road, following the wheat harvest. Summer's parents and grandparents are combine drivers and join the Parker crew each season. This year, with her parents in Japan helping relatives, it's just Summer and Jaz and their grandparents. Jiichan is driving a combine and Obaachan is the cook for the harvest crew, with Summer as her assistant. Cynthia Kadohata's thoughtful novel is grounded in Summer's point of view, which broadens and brightens over a season of incredible hard work and unexpected challenges. Summer is convinced her family is plagued by bad luck, but it turns out luck is like people-never simple. From her prickly grandmother, to critical Mrs. Parker and other members of the crew, to Jaz, who has a hard time socializing and a hard time with anger when he's frustrated and who is never defined or explained with a label, Summer is challenged to embrace the complications and contradictions that come with people and with life. It's not about luck, it's about perspective, and the willingness to try. Kadohata's characters are revealed, slowly, skillfully, and beautifully, over the course of this quietly compelling narrative that also illuminates a fascinating dimension of American farm life. (Ages 10-13)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2014

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