Just My Luck

by Cammie McGovern (Author)

Just My Luck
Reading Level: 4th − 5th Grade

Critically acclaimed author Cammie McGovern's powerful and heartwarming middle grade novel will appeal to readers who loved R. J. Palacio's Wonder, Holly Sloan's Counting by 7s, and Lynda Mullaly Hunt's Fish in a Tree.

"This brave story, told with wry humor, is inspirational," raved Ann M. Martin, New York Times bestselling author of Rain Reign.

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.

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Publishers Weekly

Benny is a worrier. He worries about his father, who has had a brain aneurysm. He worries about his fourth-grade teacher, who seems increasingly distracted. And he worries about whether he has a best friend and about the mounting evidence that he isn't good at anything--not bike riding, math, or the acts of kindness his school is encouraging. He doesn't worry about his autistic older brother, George, though. George is George. Sometimes he can do more than his family expects, sometimes he talks to himself and makes strangers uncomfortable, but he always laughs at Benny's jokes. In her first middle-grade novel, McGovern (A Step Toward Falling) brings readers fully into Benny's troubled thoughts, making a clear distinction between the things that he can't control (his father's health, his brother's autism) and the things that he can. McGovern's thoughtful depiction of a family facing difficult situations without fracturing, coupled with a gentle message about not being too hard on oneself, will surely speak to middle schoolers with their own slate of worries. Ages 8-12. Agent: Margaret Riley, William Morris Endeavor. (Feb.)

Copyright 2015 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

Gr 4-6—Fourth-grader Benny is not having any luck. His father had an accident for which Benny blames himself. His best friend moved to Florida. And his brother George, who is autistic, can do tricks on his bicycle, while Benny is still having trouble starting and stopping. In her debut novel for middle grade readers, McGovern presents a heart-filled story of a likable boy who doesn't realize that his natural gifts are recognizable and valued by a supportive family and his teacher Mr. Norris. At school, a new program called C.A.R.E. rewards students who "do things that show our empathy and compassion." While the other students count their C.A.R.E. scores, Benny feels like his good deeds are invisible. At home, Benny's mother encourages him to find his passion, but he's not sure what that is. There are many moments that will ring true to middle grade readers: feeling anxious about friendships, wanting to be noticed, and trying to do the right thing. When Benny's father has to go back to the hospital, all of Benny's fears return, but, gradually, he is able to navigate his new circumstances, especially when he realizes that he and Mr. Norris share something very important. VERDICT Recommend this sensitive novel to fans of Lisa Graff's Absolutely Almost (Philomel, 2014) and Rob Buyea's Because of Mr. Terupt (Delacorte, 2010).—Shelley Sommer, Inly School, Scituate, MA

Copyright 2015 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"In narrator Benny, readers find a resilient and very observant 9-year-old who accepts those around him with their strengths and shortcomings alike. His story is insightful and inspirational."—Kirkus Reviews
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
March 20, 2017
BISAC categories
JUV013000 - Juvenile Fiction | Family | General
JUV039150 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Special Needs
JUV039020 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Adolescence
Library of Congress categories

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