THE OTHER SIDE OF LUCK, by Ginger Johnson, Bloomsbury Children’s Books, Aug. 10, 2021, Hardcover, $16.99 (ages 8-12)
A princess and a pauper find their lives forever changed when their paths cross in Ginger Johnson’s middle-grade fantasy The Other Side of Luck.
Ever since her mother’s death, Princess Una has suffered through years of loneliness in the royal palace, where girls are treated as an afterthought. She yearns for a different life but is unsure how to make anyone notice her. Then her father announces a special contest: Whoever finds the rare Silva Flower can present it to Una for her twelfth birthday and receive a reward. Frustrated by her father’s grand but empty gesture, Una decides to take her fate into her own hands.
Julien, a young pauper, has tried his whole life to make something of nothing, alongside his hardworking Baba. When Baba is arrested by terrifying debt collectors, Julien’s only hope to save his father is to win the palace contest — to find the elusive Silva Flower. Little does he know that Una has decided to embark on a journey to find the prize, as well. As Una and Julien search for the flower, their destinies intertwine and offer a reward greater than anything either could ever hope for: the feeling of belonging. —Synopsis provided by Bloomsbury Children’s Books
I became a fan of Ginger Johnson’s with her debut novel, The Splintered Light, and was excited to read her sophomore novel. I was not disappointed. The Other Side of Luck has a more fairy-tale-esque feel to it. And that’s not a bad thing. In fact, it adds a certain charm that you don’t immediately expect.
Each of Johnson’s characters are memorable, with bold, well-developed personalities. This is true from the minor to the major players, creating a richer experience overall. At the center of the story are Una and Julien — each with their own gifts, and each with their own trials. Their strengths play off one another and they’re both compelling in their own right.
The Other Side of Luck is a fast-moving book that readers won’t want to put down. Themes of family and friendship set agains the backdrop of action, adventure, and mystery should appeal to a large cross-section of middle-readers.
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