Saturday, June 27, 2009

Book Review: Lucky by Rachel Vail

Book: Lucky
Author: Rachel Vail
Published: 2008

Phoebe Avery is a lucky girl. She's rich, cute, and popular. She and her four best friends are planning the most incredible party known to man for their eighth grade graduation. She has everything she could ever want.

She should remember that nothing lasts forever.

When her mom runs into bad times at work, the family starts feeling the cash crunch. Suddenly, everything Phoebe thought was important is slipping out of her fingers. The wonderful party, the amazing dress, the fantastic friends--it could all be gone tomorrow.

At first glance, I thought this would be your usual turn-of-fortune book. You know--Phoebe loses all the material things, and all her selfish, shallow friends desert her. Then she finds out who her real friends are, and it's all very heartwarming and cliched.

Thank you, Rachel Vail, for giving that book a miss and giving me Lucky instead.

The strength of this book, and the source of its uniqueness, lies in the characterization. Vail takes the people that would be stereotypes--superbusinesswoman Mom, cute ex, materialistic best friend--and makes them human. Cute ex stutters all over himself and basically acts like a recognizable fourteen-year-old boy trying to ask out a girl. Superbusinesswoman Mom does not ignore or belittle her daughters, but struggles in a very human way to acknowledge the trouble that the family is in.

And surprise, amazement, bring me my smelling salts, the materialistic best friend is actually just that--a girl, with some flaws, who nevertheless wants to be there for Phoebe. This is a book about friendship, and about how difficult it is to be the person that needs support when you've always been the one that gives.

While the front of the book looks very teen (seriously--at least a B-cup) Phoebe is only fourteen and the story mostly reflects that. Give this to older tweens or young teens.

I'm looking forward to the next in the series, Gorgeous. It features Phoebe's sister Allison and takes place concurrently with Lucky, but with a totally different storyline. I'm intrigued to see how that will work out, and delighted that there's yet another sister in the Avery family.

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