Cynthia Kadohata

The Thing about Luck

The Thing about Luck

Cynthia Kadohata
illustrated by Julia Kuo
Atheneum, 2013
hardcover: 978-1416918820

What the Book's About

Saving the day, and your family, is a lot of responsibility for a kid with bad luck.

Summer knows that kouun means “good luck” in Japanese, and this year her family has none of it. Just when she thinks nothing else can possibly go wrong, an emergency whisks her parents away to Japan—right before harvest season. Summer and her little brother, Jaz, are left in the care of their grandparents, who come out of retirement in order to harvest wheat and help pay the bills.

The thing about Obaachan and Jiichan is that they are old-fashioned and demanding, and between helping Obaachan cook for the workers, covering for her when her back pain worsens, and worrying about her lonely little brother, Summer just barely has time to notice the attentions of their boss’s cute son. But notice she does, and what begins as a welcome distraction from the hard work soon turns into a mess of its own.

Having thoroughly disappointed her grandmother, Summer figures the bad luck must be finished—but then it gets worse. And when that happens, Summer has to figure out how to change it herself, even if it means further displeasing Obaachan. Because it might be the only way to save her family.

What Other People Have to Say

  • National Book Award
  • Asian Pacific American Book Award
  • Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year selection
  • Booklinks Lasting Connections
  • Booklist Editors’ Choice
  • Booklist, starred review
  • Center for the Study of Multicultural Children’s Literature Best Multicultural Books List
  • Horn Book, starred review
  • Judy Lopez Memorial Award Honor Book
  • Kirkus Reviews, starred review
  • Publishers Weekly, starred review
  • School Library Journal, starred review

Voted on by kid readers:

  • Capitol Choices List (DC)
  • Charlie May Simon Book Award ML (AR)
  • Dorothy Canfield Fisher Book Award Master List (VT)
  • Garden State Teen Book Award Nominee (NJ)
  • Keystone to Reading Book Award Master List (PA)
  • Land of Enchantment Children’s Book Award (NM)
  • Volunteer State Book Award Master List (TN)

“In her likable voice, Summer observes the varying excitement, tedium, and challenges of harvesting wheat, sprinkling her narration with casual turns of phrase such as ‘OMG’ and ‘epic fail’ that will endear her to readers. Strong family ties suffuse this novel with a tremendous amount of heart. Though Summer’s brother has been diagnosed with a number of disorders, she prefers to think of him as simply “intense,” and, like most siblings, is alternately protective of and annoyed by his idiosyncrasies. Her grandparents, comically strict Obaachan and kindly Jiichan, bring warmth and humor with their cultural and generational differences.” (School Library Journal, starred review)

“Readers who peel back the layers of obsessions and fears will find a character who is determined, compassionate and altogether delightful.” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)

The Thing about Luck

Cynthia Kadohata
illustrated by Julia Kuo
Atheneum, 2013
hardcover: 978-1416918820

Available in hardcover, paperback, audio book, and e-book formats

National Book Award winner