cover image These Unlucky Stars

These Unlucky Stars

Gillian McDunn. Bloomsbury, $16.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-5476-0538-5

An accident-prone middle schooler blames her lot on an unlucky star in McDunn’s (The Queen Bee and Me) endearing contemporary novel. When an attempted doorbell ditching ends with a broken arm for elderly neighbor Gloria Crumb, rising seventh grader Annie P. Logan spends the summer assisting the stubbornly independent woman with her clutter. She also helps the residents of her North Carolina town prepare for their first festival, which they hope will put the struggling town on the map. Caring for Gloria’s beloved hound helps Annie overcome her longtime fear of the creatures, sparked by a dog attack, and as the two unearth old pictures—of Gloria’s siblings, travels, and surprising talents—Annie begins to wonder about these changing versions of the now frail woman she visits daily, and the choices and experiences that define who a person becomes. Annie’s journey to break free of the guilt she carries, about Gloria’s accident and her own mother’s leaving, and to embrace her true self—including the wild imagination and creativity she shared with her mom—offer quiet triumph through a tenderly drawn intergenerational relationship and Annie’s expressive voice. Ages 8–11. [em]Agent: Marietta Zacker, Gallt & Zacker Literary. (Mar.) [/em]