By Bobbie Pyron
Available now from Arthur A. Levine (Scholastic)
Nate Harlow is the unluckiest boy in town. His toast is always burnt, and he can never call a coin correctly. He takes pictures of lost shoes, hoping that one day he can reunite a pair, that maybe that will be good luck. Then he's struck by lightning on his birthday and everything turns around.
I liked that LUCKY STRIKE was ambiguous about whether there was anything magical happening. Nate's luck (good and bad) strains credulity, as do other events in the novel, but there is no concrete statement that it is all real or all imaginary. After all, as Gen's mother points out, much of the changes in Nate's life could come from his increased self-confidence. There's a nice balance of possibility.
Pre-strike, Nate is best friends with Genesis "Gen" Beam and firm in his solidarity with her as the two biggest losers around. Post-strike, he is excited by his new opportunities to make friends and lashes out when Gen's lack of social skill makes it harder for him to fit it. It's hard to see a nice kid succumb to popularity like that, but it is believable that Nate wouldn't know how to handle all of the changes in his life gracefully. I did find it slightly awkward that LUCKY STRIKE starts switching to Gen's point of view at this point when the beginning is firmly in Nate's point of view. However, I did like that both friends get their say.
The messages of LUCKY STRIKE are pretty simple: good friends stick with you through thick and thin, and fancy new things aren't always better than what you had. There's also a good exploration of the kind of jealousy that unwarranted good fortune can engender. It's not groundbreaking stuff, but it is presented charmingly. I particularly liked the environmental element of LUCKY STRIKE. Gen is passionate about protecting the loggerhead turtles that nest on the beach.
Young readers will enjoy Nate's reversal of fortune and discovery that some things are more important than luck. LUCKY STRIKE is a cute, almost magical realist, read that does hit some deep notes.
Read on for an excerpt from LUCKY STRIKE, and visit later today for an interview with Bobbie. For more, visit other stops on her blog tour.
When Nate opened his eyes, he saw two things: his grandpa’s worried, sea-weathered face hovering above his, and a complicated-looking machine beside him with flashing lights and zig-zaggity lines.
Grandpa clutched his grandson’s hand and said something Nate couldn’t quite make out: his voice sounded like it was two miles away in the bottom of a wishing well.
“What, Grandpa? I can’t hear you.” He licked his lips and tasted blood.
Grandpa leaned in close and shouted, “You’re in the Panama City Hospital, boy. You were struck by lighting out on the Goofy Golf course.”
Goofy Golf. The T-Rex and his birthday. A loud crack and a flash of light brighter than bright. A floating, hovery feeling. It all came back to him in flashes.
He licked his lips again. “Gen,” he whispered. “Is Gen okay?” Every time he spoke, it felt like someone smacked a golf club against his skull.
Grandpa squeezed Nate’s hand and nodded. “Gen’s just fine. She saved your life with that CPR stuff she’s always reading about.”
Nate tried to nod his head. She was a walking medical encyclopedia, that was for sure. He had a vague recollection of her bending over him and pounding on his chest.
He wanted to ask his grandpa if he got to ride in an ambulance and if they ran the siren and the flashing red light. That would’ve impressed Ricky Sands and all those giggly girls.
But Nate was so tired and cold, and his head hurt something fierce. So instead, he closed his eyes and held tight to his grandpa’s rough, warm hand.