cover image Lucky T

Lucky T

Kate Brian. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, $14.95 (291pp) ISBN 978-0-689-87351-5

The author of The V Club (aka The Virginity Club, in paperback) cooks up another frothy novel from an original premise and delivers a positive message. When Carrie's parents divorced, her father gave her a ""lucky"" T-shirt from Morocco; after that Carrie lands a spot on the varsity basketball team, leads in school plays-and even scores a cute boyfriend, Jason. She also secretly hopes that it will ""make her lucky enough to bring her family back together."" But when her mother accidentally donates the T-shirt to Help India, Jason suddenly breaks up with Carrie, and she blows a big test. To retrieve her shirt, the California teen joins her mother's hippie best friend and her obnoxious daughter, Doreen (whom she nicknames ""Dor-mean""), on a volunteer vacation in Calcutta. The plot is predictable, from Carrie's unconvincing reconciliation with Doreen, to her slow realization that she has it better off than most, with or without her shirt. But readers get a vivid sampling of Calcutta (""A few feet away a man sold steaming hot, spicy-scented meat out of a pot.... People bustled around, pausing to make purchases or bargain with hawkers"") and may also get caught up in Carrie's romance with a college student and volunteer, even if the writing occasionally strikes readers as over-the-top (""He had this sultry deepness to his voice that Carrie just wanted to record and listen to on her iPod player for all eternity""). Ages 14-up.