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Friday, April 18, 2014

A Cynthia Kadohata novel about harvesting grain in the midwest?

Kadohata, Cynthia (2013) The Thing about Luck  New York:  Atheneum.
     I had read Cynthia Kadohata's Kira-Kira and absolutely loved it.  When I picked up The Thing about Luck I am not sure what I was expecting -- but I wouldn't have guessed it was the story of a 12-year old girl obsessed with malaria and mosquitoes who, along with her possibly autistic brother Jazz is spending the summer helping her grumpy grandparents prepare meals for a travelling crew of grain harvesters.  I also wouldn't have guessed that that girl  would, at some point in the book, need to operate a 3000 pound combine.  The romantic sub-plot with a farm boy I could have anticipated though.
Here are the opening lines:
"Konun 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 the 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."
As with Kira-Kira it is a delightfully written book.  This one is a bit more quirky than Kira-Kira, and may take a little bit longer to get into, but it is a strong book.  I would probably suggest starting readers out on Kira-Kira, but once you know they have loved that one, this book would be an excellent follow-up.  I would say this book is probably best for fifth-grade and up.

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