The Thing About Luck
Kouun is “good luck” in Japanese, and one year my family had none of it. We were cursed with bad luck. Bad luck chased us around, pointing her bony finger. We got seven flat tires in six weeks. I got malaria, one of fifteen hundred cases in the United States that year. And my grandmother’s spine started causing her excruciating pain.
Furthermore, random bad smells emanated from we knew not where. And my brother, Jaz, became cursed with invisibility. Nobody noticed him except us. His best friend had moved away, and he did not know a single boy to hang around with. Even our cousins looked the other way when they saw him at our annual Christmas party. They didn’t even seem to be snubbing my brother, they just didn’t see him.
The thing about luck is that it’s like a fever. You can take fever meds and lie in bed and drink chicken broth and sleep seventeen hours in a row, but basically your fever will break when it wants to break.
Nina often talks about Newbery books being recognizable even from the first page, and this book certainly fits the bill. Character, style, and theme are abundantly evident from these first paragraphs. If P.S. BE ELEVEN is Nina’s early favorite, then I’d have to rank THE THING ABOUT LUCK as mine. I’m still not convinced that it’s head and shoulders above the other contenders, but it’s at least as good–and it’s the one that I enjoyed the most (with THE TRUE BLUE SCOUTS OF SUGAR MAN SWAMP coming in a close second).
THE THING ABOUT LUCK made the NBA longlist and I expect it to advance as a finalist–and possibly win the whole thing. I wasn’t the biggest fan of KIRA-KIRA, but I’m definitely rooting for Newbery love for this one.
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About Jonathan Hunt
Jonathan Hunt is the Coordinator of Library Media Services at the San Diego County Office of Education. He served on the 2006 Newbery committee, and has also judged the Caldecott Medal, the Printz Award, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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