Can bad luck ever be a good thing?
You wouldn’t think so if you lived in Fortune Falls—and were among its Unluckies. Technically Sadie is still an Undetermined, not yet having taken her Luck Test, required of kids when they turn 12. She knows she’s doomed to fail, though. Rotten luck follows her like a sad puppy. When Sadie and best friend Cooper attempt to reverse her misfortunes, she ends up breaking a mirror. Somehow this lousiest of omens sparks something fierce deep in Sadie’s soul, prompting her to try anything to overcome her seemingly hapless destiny. Will she or won’t she succeed? A few harrowing episodes, including graveyard escapades, a lost dog, skeletal remains, and a near-calamity facing down an oncoming train, help Sadie and readers realize she’s not all that unlucky. This girl’s got gumption. An ironic twist with a touch of magical realism runs through the second half of the novel, involving a certain animal that turns out to be an agent for change. Readers will root for Sadie and wish her the best even if they don’t buy into all the doom and gloom (there’s a lot of discussion of death). It’s a good premise, but a few disparate themes don’t particularly jell, and Goebel’s intentions aren’t always clear.
Still, it’s not the worst luck to pick this up; there are some nice moments, humor, and a satisfying ending. (Fiction. 9-12)