Name of Book: The Thing About Luck
Author: Cynthia Kadohata
Audience: Grades 5-9
Summary: When her parents go to Japan to care for ill relatives, Summer and her brother Jaz must help their grandparents. For most that would not be bad luck, but for Summer it is nothing but bad luck. Her old fashioned grandparents are migrant harvest workers who go from farm to farm harvesting wheat. Even that alone wouldn’t be so bad except her grandmother has a bad back and her grandfather gets sick and Summer must do more and harder work than any 12 year old should be asked to do. In the end, the bad luck ends and a new Summer emerges from the trials.
Literary elements at work in the story: The use of gentle, character-driven exploration of familial bonds, helps give this story characters filled with quiet strength. The reader can identify with Summers struggles with her brother, her Japanese-American grandparents, her fear of getting bit by a mosquito and again getting malaria, and most of all, her struggle with her growing awareness of who she is and where she fits in her family.
How do the perspective on gender/race/culture/economics/ability make a difference to the story?: Kadohata shows well the challenges of harvesting wheat, a subject not often explored in books for young people. Her descriptions give the reader a realistic look at the migrant experience. She also shows the old world ways of Summers’ grandparents with compassion, love and understanding.
Theological Conversation Partners: Scripture: Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Theology: Do things happen by luck, by chance? If they do, then Summer can only be seen as a lucky or unlucky person. How about you? How do you see your life? Do you see the good/bad times in your life as only lucky or unlucky times or are they, as the author of Romans says, a time of testing to help discern God’s will for us. Summer begins to see beyond her life as lucky or unlucky. She begins to see that she has an active role in what happens in her life. She is beginning the process of discernment. Begin to see your life events as discerning events and you to will be on your way to seeing God’s will for you.
Faith Talk Questions:
- How many times do you say “lucky” or “unlucky”?
- What do you mean when you say it?
- What do her grandparents say about luck?
- How was Summer lucky or unlucky?
- What does the writer of Romans think about luck?
- What does he mean by his statement “…by testing you may discern what is the will of God…”
- What does he mean by discernment?
- Have you ever had a time in your life where something happened that you could see as a test?
- How did you feel about it?
- Could you ever see a trying time as a discerning time?
This review is written by regular contributor Janet Lloyd.
The Thing About Luck by Storypath is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.