The Thing About Luck

The National Book Award Winner for Young People’s Literature in 2013 was The Thing About Luck by Cynthia Kadohata. She also wrote the 2005 Newbery winner Kira, Kira.

Summer is in the midst of her unluckiest year ever when her parents have to go to Japan ypl_kadohata_luckand she has to go on harvest with only her Japanese-American grandparents and younger brother. Harvest includes multi-state travel with a work crew to harvest the wheat in huge combines. Summer and her grandmother, Obaachon, were hired to cook all of the meals for their crew, and Jiichan, her grandfather, was a combine driver.

The harvest process is explained very well in this novel, as well as the intense pressure to do the job well and before bad weather hits. When Obaachon’s back seizes up and Jiichan gets sick, it’s up to Summer to keep their family employed.

The very best part of this novel is the oft cantankerous relationship between Summer and Obaachon. Their ongoing nitpicking manages to be both hilarious and endearing at once.



About AnEducationInBooks

Wendy BooydeGraaff is the author of Salad Pie, a children's picture book published by Ripple Grove Press. Her work has been published in Emrys Journal Online, The Emerson Review, Jellyfish Review, Bending Genres, SmokeLong Quarterly and Leopardskin & Limes, and is forthcoming in NOON. Read more work at or find her on Twitter @BooyTweets.
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