Wednesday, July 30, 2014
The Thing About Luck by Cynthia Kadohata
The Thing About Luck by Cynthia Kadohata, 2013.
In this quiet and unusual story, 12 year old Japanese-American Summer spends the summer helping her family harvest wheat around the country. Her parents have been called to Japan to take care of aged relatives, so Summer is travelling with her strict grandparents, her unpopular and quirky younger brother and her beloved dog. She expects to help her Obaachan (grandmother) cook meals for the harvesting crew, but she doesn't suspect that a boy that she's known for years has become really attractive and she doesn't plan on her Jiichan (grandfather) getting too sick to drive the combine and maybe not get the wheat harvested before the rain comes. Summer's mom told her that a lot changes in the summer before seventh grade, but Summer didn't realize that she'd have to get along with prickly Obaachan, worry about her brother, deal with her fear of/obsession with mosquitoes and malaria and possibly save her family's jobs.
Kadohata's strong characterizations make this book a great read. Summer is a thoughtful girl who loves her family, who makes mistakes and learns to face her fears. Summer's brother Jaz is an unusual boy who has had three different psychological diagnoses, but to Summer, he's just her intense brother and she hopes that he can find friends. Obaachan and Jiichan, while funny when they quarrel, are multi-dimensional people and not just comic relief.