Book: Just My Luck (2016)
Author: Cammie McGovern
Genre: Lower MG, Contemporary
Rating: 4 stars
Basic plot: Benny’s in fourth grade, and he doesn’t have it easy. When his dad has an accident, Benny’s afraid it might be his fault. He also has to watch over his autistic older brother George. And on top of that, his teacher’s acting weird. That’s when his school comes up with a “footprints” project about helping others. But nobody seems to notice what Benny does. Why should Benny even try any more?
1) Benny was a sympathetic and interesting character. He’s not particularly good at, well, at anything… except well, when he is good at it. His super-power? Is being nice and kind. So, when all these bad things happen to him, you’re bound to feel bad.
2) I like how McGovern dealt with the school footprints subplot, especially with regards to Benny’s friend Jeremy. Jeremy keeps boasting about how easy it is to get his name on a footprint while Benny can’t get his name on a single one! Then [*Spoiler] when he does, he ends up giving it to Jeremy! And speaking of the friend Jeremy, I was glad to see how that subplot wound up with Benny’s discovery that he has been misjudging Jeremy’s motives and actions. It’s definitely a good reminder for all of us that we have to be careful how we read other people and their actions. [End Spoiler]
3) The mystery of what was up with Mr. Norris was well-played. It kept me guessing and interested. I didn’t exactly figure it out, but I came close.
4) The subplot with Lisa was interesting. What a complex situation! I liked how she was brought into the final scene. (But I’m glad the brother Martin has moved on from her!)
5) I liked the relationship between Benny and his brother George. I also enjoyed how they are connected with the whole bike-riding thing that keeps being brought back to the story. This is the shadow following Benny… its connection with the dad and the dad’s accident. Nicely done!
WHAT’S NOT COOL…
1) I did find Benny to be a little young at times (and a bit of a crybaby). Maybe I keep thinking he’s older than he is. (He’d be around nine years old.) I don’t mind a little crying, especially at a cathartic moment in the plot. But I think there are lots of ways to show emotion without tears flowing. (Note: Maybe this was just me.)
My rating is 4 Stars (out of 5) – I found this to be an interesting read overall. I liked all the characters and how all they all intersected with one another. Benny’s a sympathetic character, just trying to find his place in the world.
Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday…