“A Whole Lot of Lucky” by Danette Haworth includes many of the tried and true themes for middle grade readers that grace her other books, including “The Summer of Moonlight Secrets” and “Me & Jack.” Themes like friendship, fitting in, and family are especially important to readers at that age.
Haworth creates a perfect main character. Hailee Richardson, her baby sister, and their parents live a life where new clothes come from Goodwill and bicycles are bought second-hand. When Hailee borrows a jeans skirt from her best friend Amanda, mean girls at school make fun of her for it. They had written an “A” in marker on the skirt when Amanda was wearing it to see if Hailee would borrow it.
When Hailee’s parents win the lottery, she is thrilled and sure that her life is about to change. She spends a lot of time making lists of what she wants (including a nanny to care for the baby). Reality comes around when her parents explain that a few million, paid in installments, does not make them really rich.
Unfortunately, for Hailee it means that her parents enroll her in a girls-only private school. She is despondent at the thought of being separated from Amanda, but soon finds that she is pretty good at making new friends.
Trouble arises when she makes a new friend who does not believe in following the rules. Will Hailee start skipping school with her? Will Hailee give her the answers to a quiz?
Hailee’s experiences will resonate with girls of that age. Her reaction when getting her first smart phone is priceless. She texts her best friend to tell her she got a new phone. She adds “LOL” at the end. Then she tells her parents that she texted Amanda and what she texted.
“I have to explain to them that LOL means laughing out loud. Then I text Amanda about how I had to explain LOL to Mom and Dad.”
What’s great about Haworth’s writing is that it just gets better and better. While some authors feel that they need to multiply their use of simile and metaphor by the number of books they have written, Haworth’s writing is lovely but never cloying.
For example, she writes, “People always talk about fall colors–that’s a northern idea. Sometimes, the truth of a thing depends on where you’re looking at it from. For instance, in Florida, red leaves pop from our maples around Valentine’s Day. I ask you, could that be any more perfect? Also, birds don’t fly south for the winter; they fly north for the summer.”
All in all, a wonderful book with wonderful themes to discuss. Absolutely a perfect book for a mother-daughter book club.
Please note: This book is based on the advance reader’s copy provided by the publisher, Walker & Company, for review purposes.
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