Lucky Strikes: A Review

Lucky Strikes by Louis BayardFourteen-year-old Amelia has been taking care of things at home for a while by the time her mama passes. She knows all about running the family gas station and she’s fair to middling when it comes to taking care of her younger brother and sister, Earle and Lucey.

The only problem is, Melia isn’t sure that the state will see it that way if anyone finds out they don’t have an adult taking care of them. It’s bad enough that Melia is scraping the bottom of the barrel to keep the gas station afloat while Harley Blevins eyes them with a mind to buy–or run them out of business. Melia certainly has no intention of letting her and her siblings wind up in foster care and split up. No way.

All Melia has to do is keep her family together and keep the gas station running until she comes of age and can adopt Earle and Lucey. No easy feat with no adult in sight. When a hobo literally falls in her path, Melia thinks she might have found exactly what she needs to keep everyone fooled. She just needs everyone to play along for a little while in Lucky Strikes (2016) by Louis Bayard.

Lucky Strikes is Bayard’s first historical novel written for younger readers. This book is pretty solid middle grade fare although because Amelia is fourteen it technically falls under the umbrella of YA.

This book is narrated by Melia in a breezy and conversational style. Throughout the book she is talking to someone (addressed as “you”) although readers don’t learn who exactly that is until the final pages of the story.

Bayard uses his expertise as an author of historical fiction to bring 1934 Walnut Ridge, Virginia to life. Lucky Strikes is filled with vivid imagery and detailed descriptions that will immediately bring readers into the story as well as its unusual settings. This novel makes 1934 and the Great Depression immediately approachable to readers without bogging the story down in extraneous historical facts.

Amelia is a plucky, self-starter of a heroine who doesn’t waste time on sentimentality when there is work to be done. While she often feels a bit too old to be a fourteen-year-old–particularly because of her pragmatism–it is possibly a side-effect of her having sensibilities from a very different time. The story also largely works because Amelia is fourteen which lends urgency to her need to find an adult to act as a stand-in parent.

Lucky Strikes is a madcap story about perseverance, friendship, and how sometimes family can be found in the most unlikely places. Recommended for fans of historical fiction and fast-paced stories.

Possible Pairings: The View From Saturday by E. L. Konigsburg, Sender Unknown by Sallie Lowenstein, The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson, The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy by Gary D. Schmidt, Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli, Signed, Skye Harper by Carol Lynch Williams

*An advance copy of this title was provided by the publisher for review consideration*

July 2016 Reading Tracker

You can also see what I read in June.

Books Read: 

  1. The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson
  2. The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
  3. A Week of Mondays by Jessica Brody
  4. Twist by Karen Akins
  5. The Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst
  6. Everland by Wendy Spinale
  7. Giant Days by John Allison, Lissa Treiman, Whitney Cogar
  8. The Art of Holding On and Letting Go by Kristin Bartley Lenz
  9. Library Wars vol. 13 by Kiiro Yumi
  10. Library Wars vol. 14 by Kiiro Yumi
  11. The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee
  12. Who Needs Magic? by Kathy McCullough
  13. Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes
  14. This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

Books On Deck:

  1. Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
  2. Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton
  3. The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

Books Bought:

  1. This Song by Victoria Schwab (ARC upgrade) (I technically wound up with two copies of this book. Plus the ARC for now. Just . . . don’t talk to me.)
  2. Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes (I am not, it turns out, immune to unbelievable deals where I can buy a hardcover for 7 dollars and change)

Gifted Books:

  1. The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima

ARCs Received:

  1. The Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst

Related: Follow my progress with my BEA 2016 books.

July 1: Remember when everyone got to vote on what I would read in July and in what order? Well my books on deck has the final rundown. Of course, being a contrary human I now want to read other books but so it goes.

July 25: Started Everland. It’s okay but unless something really changes in the course of the novel, I don’t see myself keeping it.

July 26: I have many duplicate books, several books I’m not reading, and I just need to start weeding my home library again. Teen volunteers were horrified that I own over 200 books and now I’m horrified too.

July 29: I’ve been feeling really scattered this week so I decided to take some time to re-read my favorite book, Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta. It was very soothing and the book totally held up and for whatever reason I felt a lot more centered afterwards.