Emma Donoghue
In Emma Donoghue’s new middle-grade novel, The Lotterys Plus One, Sumac Lottery is nine years old and the self-proclaimed "good girl" of her (VERY) large, (EXTREMELY) unruly family. And what a family the Lotterys are: four parents, children both adopted and biological, and a menagerie of pets, all living and learning together in a sprawling house called Camelottery. Then one day, the news breaks that one of their grandfathers is suffering from dementia and will be coming to live with them. And not just any grandfather; the long dormant "Grumps," who fell out with his son so long ago that he hasn't been part of any of their lives. Suddenly, everything changes. Sumac has to give up her room to make the newcomer feel at home. She tries to be nice, but prickly Grumps's clearly disapproves of how the Lotterys live: whole grains, strange vegetables, rescue pets, a multicultural household....He's worse than just tough to get along with—Grumps has got to go! But can Sumac help him find a home where he belongs? “Full of clever names and wordplay, this engaging tale is moving without veering into sentimentality,” our critic writes in a starred review. “For all the Lotterys’ apparent eccentricity, the novel delves into universal themes of family relationships that will resonate with readers from all backgrounds.”


KIRKUS REVIEW

The Lotterys, a family very much of our century, star in this story about the true meaning of acceptance and belonging.

A riotously, exuberantly loving clan of four parents and seven home-schooled children (all named for trees), plus assorted pets, inhabit a sprawling house in an urban Toronto neighborhood. Having won the lottery, the parents—composed of two same-sex couples, one male and one female—retired and started a family through birth and adoption. Precocious Sumac, a biracial Filipina-German 9-year-old, is the sensitive, observant sibling and hence the most deeply affected when their prickly, conservative Scottish grandfather, suffering from dementia, is transported against his will from the Yukon wilderness into their cheerful chaos, upsetting the balance of family life. Grumps, as he is christened by the children, struggles to understand 4-year-old Brian's (formerly Briar) fluid gender identity, not to mention the family's greener-than-thou lifestyle. With a large cast of characters, cultural expression (the parents alone are of Scottish, Indian, Mohawk, and Jamaican descent) is primarily conveyed via food and celebrations. Most refreshing is that the Lotterys’ many differences, from 10-year-old Aspen's challenges to toddler Oak's developmental delays, are simply part of their own normal. Full of clever names and wordplay, this engaging tale is moving without veering into sentimentality.

For all the Lotterys’ apparent eccentricity, the novel delves into universal themes of family relationships that will resonate with readers from all backgrounds. (Fiction. 8-12)


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