The Thing About Luck: Book summary and reviews of The Thing About Luck by Cynthia Kadohata

The Thing About Luck

by Cynthia Kadohata

The Thing About Luck
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  • Published in USA  Jun 2013
    288 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

There is bad luck, good luck, and making your own luck - which is exactly what Summer must do to save her family in this novel from Newbery Medalist Cynthia Kadohata.

Summer knows that kouun means "good luck" in Japanese, and this year her family has none of it. Just when she thinks nothing else can possibly go wrong, an emergency whisks her parents away to Japan - right before harvest season. Summer and her little brother, Jaz, are left in the care of their grandparents, who come out of retirement in order to harvest wheat and help pay the bills.

The thing about Obaachan and Jiichan is that they are old-fashioned and demanding, and between helping Obaachan cook for the workers, covering for her when her back pain worsens, and worrying about her lonely little brother, Summer just barely has time to notice the attentions of their boss's cute son. But notice she does, and what begins as a welcome distraction from the hard work soon turns into a mess of its own.

Having thoroughly disappointed her grandmother, Summer figures the bad luck must be finished - but then it gets worse. And when that happens, Summer has to figure out how to change it herself, even if it means further displeasing Obaachan. Because it might be the only way to save her family.

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Book Awards

  • award image National Book Awards, 2013

Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Newbery Medalist Kadohata's (Kira-Kira) gifts for creating and containing drama and for careful definition of character prove as powerful as ever in this wise, tender and compelling novel. Ages 12+" - Publishers Weekly

"Kadohata has written a gentle family story that is unusual in its focus on the mechanics of wheat harvesting." - Booklist

"The story has some funny and thought-provoking moments and will particularly appeal to young girls searching for an enjoyable, quick read." - VOYA

"Starred Review. Readers who peel back the layers of obsessions and fears will find a character who is determined, compassionate and altogether delightful. Ages 10-14." - Kirkus

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Author Information

Cynthia Kadohata Author Biography

Cynthia Kadohata has been writing since 1982. When she was 25 and completely directionless, she took a Greyhound bus trip up the West Coast, and then down through the South and Southwest. She met people she never would have met otherwise. It was during that bus trip, which lasted a month, that she rediscovered in the landscape the magic she'd known as a child. Though she had never considered writing fiction before, the next year she decided to begin. She sent one story out every month, and about forty-eight stories later, The New Yorker took one. She now lives in California.

In her own words.....

Family Background: My father's parents married in Japan and immigrated in the early 1920s to the United States, where they became tenant farmers near Costa Mesa, California. ...

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Author Interview

Name Pronunciation
Cynthia Kadohata: ca-do-HAR-ta

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