When a mysterious letter appears promising good luck, 12-year-old Emma finds her world turned upside down.
12-year-old Emma Macintyre is going through some tough times. Recently she lost her Aunt Jenny to cancer and her best friend, Savvy, has turned on her. Savvy is now running with a popular but mean set of school kids. Emma tries to fit in and accommodate everyone at school, but her best intentions backfire. It seems she just can't get a lucky break. But then a mysterious, unsigned letter is hand delivered to her home.
The letter promises that ten lucky things will happen during the next month if Emma will only wish for them. As Emma's wishes start to come true, she starts to realise she wants different things in life. The popular kids she thought she wanted to be friends with, she now wants to avoid. Emma finds that her attitude to luck also changes and she develops a new philosophy, accepting the random good and bad that comes her way.
Janice Erlbaum's first novel for children (she is known for her memoirs and adult fiction) is a sassy, engaging story told from Emma's point of view. The dialogue is lively and often humorous, with plenty of sharp observations. The story reaches a dramatic peak when Emma's best friend Savvy is trapped into sending a topless photo to a boy she thinks she's in love with, opening the story up to contemporary themes of bullying and teen pornography. It's hard to think of a better book to put into the hands of young readers just about to enter their teens, with its cautionary tale about the dangers of mobile phones and cliquey in-groups.
Funny, page-turning and with a diverse cast (there are gay characters and single mums), Lucky Little Things is an enjoyable ride through the dramas of middle school.
Lucky Little Things, by Janice Erlbaum. Square Fish $11.99
Review by Chris Saliba
North Melbourne Books