THESE UNLUCKY STARS, by Gillian McDunn, Bloomsbury Children’s Books, March 2, 2021, Hardcover, $16.99 (ages 8-12)
An unexpected friendship changes a girl’s outlook on life in Gillian McDunn’s middle-grade novel These Unlucky Stars.
Ever since her mother left a few years ago, Annie has felt like the odd one out in her family. Her dad and brother are practical and organized — they just don’t understand the way she thinks, in lines and color. Everywhere she turns, she feels like an outsider, even at school, so she’s been reluctant to get close to anyone.
When a “Ding-Dong-Ditch” attempt goes wrong, Annie finds herself stuck making amends with Gloria, the eccentric elderly lady she disturbed. As she begins to connect with Gloria and her weird little dog, it becomes clear that Gloria won’t be able to live on her own for much longer. But it’s this brief and important friendship that gives Annie the confidence to let people in, and see how rich life can be when you decide to make your own luck and chart your own path to happiness. —Synopsis provided by Bloomsbury Children’s Books
These Unlucky Stars is a gentle reminder to parents that what they say sticks. Annie’s mom told her she was born under an unlucky star. When bad things or mistakes happen, she would call her “Unlucky Annie.” Annie took that message to heart. Now, even with her mom gone, Annie allows her “unluckiness” to dictate her life.
That mindset sets the stage for These Unlucky Stars. But Annie isn’t destined to be unlucky. Instead, author Gillian McDunn charts a new direction for Annie that is both uplifting and fulfilling.
And what better way to explore Annie’s progression than through her relationships — the most compelling of which are those with her brother, Ray, Gloria and Gloria’s dog. These are heartfelt moments that feel bigger than the chapters in which they are written. Annie’s reconning with her father is also a highlight.
These Unlucky Stars is a tender read that celebrates family and friendships of all shapes and sizes.
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