The Thing About Luck by Cynthia KadohataSummer knows that kouun means good luck in Japanese, and this year her family has had none. Just when Summer thinks nothing else can possibly go wrong, an emergency whisks her parents away to Japan, right before harvest season leaving Summer and her little brother, Jaz, in the care of their elderly grandparents, Obaachan and Jiichan.
Obaachan and Jiichan are old fashioned, very demanding, and easily disappointed. Between helping Obaachan cook for the workers and with all the other chores, and worrying about her little brother, who cant seem to make any friends, Summer has her hands full. But when a welcome distraction turns into a big mess, causing further disappointment, Summer realises she must try and make her own luck as it might be the only way to save her family.
The Thing About Luck Summary & Study Guide
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Summary: When her parents go to Japan to care for ill relatives, Summer and her brother Jaz must help their grandparents. For most that would not be bad luck, but for Summer it is nothing but bad luck. Her old fashioned grandparents are migrant harvest workers who go from farm to farm harvesting wheat. In the end, the bad luck ends and a new Summer emerges from the trials. Literary elements at work in the story: The use of gentle, character-driven exploration of familial bonds, helps give this story characters filled with quiet strength. The reader can identify with Summers struggles with her brother, her Japanese-American grandparents, her fear of getting bit by a mosquito and again getting malaria, and most of all, her struggle with her growing awareness of who she is and where she fits in her family. Her descriptions give the reader a realistic look at the migrant experience.
That year, she says, began with her contracting malaria, a generally fatal tropical disease that she caught from what amounts to a rogue mosquito. This, she goes on to say, led her into an ambivalent, perhaps contradictory, relationship with mosquitoes — finding them both extremely beautiful and extremely dangerous. Summer and her family are hired by Parker Harvesting Inc. Summer and her family leave their home in Kansas for their first job of the season, in Texas. As time in Texas passes, a combination of circumstances forces the Parkers to split the work crew in two. Part of the team remains in Texas to finish the job there, while the other part is sent to Oklahoma to start work on another job. Summer and her family go with the Oklahoma group, where the pressure of getting another large job completed on deadline gets to Jiichan, and he has to stop work in order to rest.
The Thing About Luck Summary & Study Guide includes detailed chapter summaries and analysis, quotes, character descriptions, themes, and more.
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