I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Just My Luck by Cammie McGovern
Published by HarperCollins on February 23rd 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Social Themes, Special Needs, Family, General, Adolescence, Social Issues
Buy on Amazon
Critically acclaimed author Cammie McGovern's middle grade debut is a powerful and heartwarming story that will appeal to readers who loved R. J. Palacio's Wonder, Ann M. Martin's Rain Reign, and Holly Sloan's Counting by 7s.
Fourth grade is not going at all how Benny Barrows hoped. He hasn't found a new best friend. He's still not a great bike rider—even though his brother George, who's autistic, can do tricks. And worst of all, he worries his dad's recent accident might be all his fault. Benny tries to take his mom's advice and focus on helping others, and to take things one step at a time. But when his dad ends up in the hospital again, Benny doesn't know how he and his family will overcome all the bad luck that life seems to have thrown their way.
Just My Luck is a deeply moving and rewarding novel about a down-on-his-luck boy whose caring heart ultimately helps him find the strength to cope with tragedy and realize how much he truly has to offer his friends and family.
I thought that Just My Luck by Cammie McGovern was a young adult book for some bizarre reason. However, reading the summary will quickly dispel that notion. Just My Luck is McGovern’s middle grade debut. It is a super quick read about a kid named Benny and his family struggles. I personally thought, from my adult who occasionally reads middle grade books perspective that this book was okay. For the intended audience though, I think that this book will really go over well and I can’t wait to give my copy to a member of the intended audience for Just My Luck.
So, the plot of Just My Luck is basically that Benny is learning to ride his bike at the track with his dad. Disaster happens and his dad has an aneurysm. Benny’s dad is rushed to the hospital and comes back changed because of his traumatic brain injury. Meanwhile, Benny is about to begin school and has Mr. Norris for a teacher. However, Mr. Norris isn’t as nice as he expected or as exciting. Benny is also coping with his friend moving away and becoming better friends with this kid Jeremy who gets good grades, but can be a bit of a showoff and attention hog. Meanwhile, we also get a glimpse of Benny’s life with his mom, his older brothers Martin and George. George is on the autism spectrum. Benny feels like his luck is the worst ever and that everything bad happens to him and his family.
For most of this book, I thought that Benny was the middle child. It turns out he’s the youngest, I guess. Anyways, Benny comes across as overlooked because he is not autistic as his brother George. He’s also not as cool as his older brother Martin who is in high school and dates a pretty popular girl named Lisa. Also, Benny gets average grades, has to leave during tests to go to resource room for extra help. Benny is not particularly athletic either. He really hopes that he will end up getting a bunch of footprints that the teachers at his school are giving out for random acts of kindness. I think that a lot of kids will be able to identify with the main character of Just My Luck.
Cammie McGovern does a decent job exploring the realms of friends and family for an elementary school aged boy. Benny has friends but he struggles to see how great his friends really are because he’s so hung up on his friend who moved. He also lacks confidence in himself and his hobbies, so he really does not let his new friends in. I thought that Just My Luck also did a decent job in exploring what it’s like to have a sibling who has a disability. I am a person who has a sibling with a disability as well and I remember not really having books that explored that as a kid. I thought that McGovern did a nice job keeping it realistic and not making George out to be some kind of perfect angel, but instead, a real person.
Just My Luck by Cammie McGovern is a fast paced middle grade book that tackles real life issues in a sensitive way. I think that for the intended audience of elementary school kids and middle graders, this is a great read. For me, personally, well I am ambivalent. I think this could be a great read aloud book for classrooms and am really excited to give my copy to a teacher friend.
Other reviews of Just My Luck by Cammie McGovern:
This Kid Reviews Books – “a great book about learning to see the positive things in life”
Cherry Blossoms & Maple Syrup – “This book is just so genuine in every way.”
The Story Sanctuary – “This is a wonderful story about very simple things: love, community, and kindness.”
Support Good Books & Good Wine: