McDunn, Gillian

These Unlucky Stars

(2) 4-6 Annie Logan feels like an outsider at home and at school, constantly making mistakes and getting in trouble. She blames it on the fact that (according to her mother, who left when Annie was four) she was born under an unlucky star. When Annie has to spend the summer after sixth grade checking in on her elderly neighbor Gloria Crumb, she's forced out of her comfort zone and gains a new perspective. In between visits to Gloria, Annie tries to help her father and older brother design the family hardware store's float for the town festival, but they're not interested in her ideas. Although she sulks and blames her unluckiness once again, Annie also finds herself putting her art skills to work on the festival's other floats, as she gradually learns that her world is bigger than her mother's abandonment and father's dismissiveness. Gloria, stubbornly independent, discovers her own limitations while becoming the mentor Annie was certain she didn't need. McDunn has built a vibrant setting in Oak Branch, North Carolina, a classic rural small town full of dedicated but struggling small businesses run by a tight-knit community of neighbors. (Barbecue restaurateurs JoJo and The Earl are especially delightful.) Annie's self-pity can be wearing, but her emotional growth over the course of the story is ultimately satisfying.


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