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Reviewed by:
  • These Unlucky Stars by Gillian McDunn
  • Deborah Stevenson, Editor
McDunn, Gillian These Unlucky Stars. Bloomsbury, 2021 [288p]
Trade ed. ISBN 9781547605385 $16.99
E-book ed. ISBN 9781547605392 $11.89
Reviewed from digital galleys R Gr. 4–6

At eleven, Annie believes firmly that she’s cursed with unluckiness and that she’s the reason why her mother left years go. Further proof of her ill luck comes when an abortive attempt at a ding-dong ditch leads to the injuring of elderly Gloria Crumb, and Annie is now on the hook for helping feisty Gloria around the house and with her big ugly dog until she’s back on her feet. At the same time, Annie is doing her best to assist with their little town’s upcoming festival, but she’s frustrated that her father and older brother don’t seem to take her artistic contributions seriously as they work on a parade float for the family business. As she did in Caterpillar Summer (BCCB 5/19), McDunn capably captures the voice of a preteen while sharply observing her protagonist’s emotional dynamics. The book is stealthily deft at making Annie clearly the author of many of her own troubles, and there’s definitely some tough love involved in pointing out the self-absorption of her viewpoint, but it’s also a sympathetic treatment. While some of the elements (the spirited elderly mentor, the silence about the abandoning mother, the small Southern town) are familiar tropes, they’re used well here, and there’s a gentle point about our self-perception being our biggest obstacle that could make for thoughtful discussion or private pondering. [End Page 305]



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p. 305
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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