Just Lucky – Melanie Florence – Second Story Press – Published 17 September 2019
Fifteen-year-old Lucky loves her grandparents. True, her grandmother forgets things, like turning the stove off, or Lucky’s name, but her grandfather takes such good care of them that Lucky doesn’t realize how bad things are . . . until she loses her grandfather and is left caring for her grandmother on her own. When her grandma sets the kitchen on fire, Lucky can’t hide what’s happening any longer, and she is sent into foster care. She quickly learns that some families are okay, and some aren’t. And some really, really aren’t. None of them feel like home. And they’re certainly not family.
Just Lucky is a touching story about a girl’s journey through losing the only home and family she has ever known and a series of foster homes as she learns to embrace her new reality.
When Lucky’s grandfather suddenly dies, it’s not long before someone realises that her grandmother is unwell and unable to care for herself or Lucky. As her grandmother is taken to a care facility, Lucky is placed in one foster home after another. Finding somewhere to belong is hard when you’ve already lost your home.
What you see is what you get in Just Lucky. Lucky is a straightforward narrator. Short, sharp chapters divide this book into easy to read chunks. There is lots of dialogue, and minimal extra details. We don’t learn a lot about life for Lucky before the start of the book and events move quickly. It’s a short book and will be perfect and easy to read for reluctant readers.
Lucky is placed in a series of foster homes that span the range of possible placements – from abusive foster carers and frequent moves due to unforeseen circumstances, to accepting homes with caring foster parents. This is neither a book about the terribleness of the foster system, nor does it expound on its virtues, it’s just a story about a small section of a girl’s journey. And yes, there is a nice, happy ending.
Themes of racism and homophobia are addressed in Just Lucky. Lucky is not afraid to stand up for herself or her friends and she, her best friend and foster siblings all face bullying and prejudice for their heritage or sexual orientation. Like the author, Lucky identifies as Cree, a First Nations people from North America.
With my librarian hat on now, I know Just Lucky will be perfect for readers who need something quick to devour, and for those with a high maturity but a low reading level.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Category: Young adult fiction
Themes: Foster care, family, friendship, high school, grief, bullying, racial discrimination, LGBT, homophobia, grandparents, Alzheimer’s Disease.
Reading age guide: Ages 13 and up.
Advisory: References to sexual abuse. Violence – fist fights, injuries. References to drug and alcohol use. Infrequence coarse language, sh** (19), sl** (5), bi*** (2), wh*** (4), pi** (3).
Published: 17 September 2019 by Second Story Press.
Format: Paperback, ebook. 168 pages.