What is luck? Is it something that happens to you, or is it perhaps everything that happens to you? Emma Macintyre will have to figure that out.
As the story opens, an unsigned letter instructs Emma to write a list of 10 lucky things she wants to have happen and to check her list at month’s end to see what her good luck has brought her. Emma is not having a good eighth-grade year. Aunt Jenny—who wasn’t really her aunt but her single mom’s best friend—died six weeks ago, leaving a big hole in their lives. And her best friend, Savvy, got a new phone and is now more interested in texting, Instagramming, Snapchatting, and trying to fit in with the popular kids than in hanging out with Emma. As the month progresses, good things happen to her: She lands the lead part in the school play, falls in love (though not with the boy on her list, who turns out to be a creep); but bad things also happen: Savvy unwisely sends a topless photo of herself to a boy. In the devastating aftermath, Savvy’s moms withdraw her from school. Emma narrates, a convincing young adolescent whose close relationship with her mother is forged in part by their mutual suffering at the hands of her alcoholic WASP grandmother, who comments on the biracial girl’s “dusky coloring,” inherited from her absent Colombian dad. The savagery of middle school social dynamics will resonate.
Though unrealistically pat in the end, it offers a positive message that in life, good and bad come together. (Fiction. 10-14)