Monday, July 21, 2014

MMGM: The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky


This book has been getting a lot of love, especially when it first came out. I've learned, though, that just because everyone else likes a book, doesn't mean I will. But I knew I was reading something special from the first page.
Not only does Auggie have the best grampa in the old, but he’s got a car with personality (and a name!).

I’m in.



The synopsis:

 August “Auggie” Jones lives with her Grandpa Gus, a trash hauler, in a poor part of town. So when her wealthy classmate’s father starts the House Beautification Committee, it’s homes like Auggie’s that are deemed “in violation.” Auggie is determined to prove that she is not as run-down as the outside of her house might suggest. Using the kind of items Gus usually hauls to the scrap heap, a broken toaster becomes a flower; church windows turn into a rainbow walkway; and an old car gets new life as spinning whirligigs. What starts out as a home renovation project becomes much more as Auggie and her grandpa discover a talent they never knew they had—and redefine a whole town’s perception of beauty, one recycled sculpture at a time. Auggie’s talent for creating found art will remind readers that one girl’s trash really is another girl’s treasure.

What I loved about this book:

  1. Memorable characters: Most of Schindler’s characters, even the most minor, are interesting. I love how she gives them memorable tags: the pastor who wears sneakers to remind himself how he used to live on the wild side, the principal who’s taken his wife’s maiden name, the teacher who pops indigestion tablets by the handful. The only exception is the antagonist and her side-kick (Auggie’s former BFF), who I wish were a little more well-rounded.
  2. Description: I’m sure this is something I noticed because I’m working on in my own writing, but I loved how Schindler described everyday things in interesting ways: “Chuck’s grin grows like a flower blooming on fast forward.” The book is peopled with interesting turns of phrase like this showing that kids are the best metaphor-makers.
  3. Poverty as a theme: One of the things I loved about this book is how Auggie and her family are never ashamed of not having as much as others. The theme of accepting who you are and where you came from was really strong. I loved how grampa said, “Poor folks have poor ways”—and how that was something to be proud of.
  4. Names: I loved how most of the names of the characters in this book have a history—Auggie was named after her grampa so he would keep her, the aforementioned principal who changed his name, even the truck “Old Glory.” This gave the story depth and interest.
    For writers: If you’re working on how to avoid typical clich├ęs for describing emotions (heart beating fast, sweaty palms), check out this book. I love how Schindler avoids these clich├ęs with interesting metaphors in Auggie’s voice. Like: "Gus's face is filled with so many worry wrinkles, it reminds me of the collar of a shirt that's been inside of someone's fist." 
    JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY would appeal to fans of quiet, feel-good books like those by Cynthia Lord, Linda Urban, and Danette Haworth.
    Have you read any interesting middle grades lately?
  5. If you're looking for Marvelous Middle Grade suggestions, check out Shannon Messenger's blog.

26 comments:

  1. Loved your review, especially with your examples. This sounds like a great book. Hope I get to read it one of these days.

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    1. Oh, I hope you do to, Natalie! It's an inspiring read.

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  2. I've had this one on my TBR list for what seems like too long. Your review encouraged me to get to it this summer. Yes those cliche's can be a problem. I can't wait to read how this author handles them.

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    1. I hope you enjoy it, Greg! One of my favorite things about this book was the way she surprises the readers with her use of language.

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  3. This is on my list! Need to locate a copy soon.

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    1. I really think you'll enjoy this one, Barbara! I'm glad I finally got around to reading it.

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  4. Great examples of descriptions. The neat thing about kids is they haven't been saturated with cliches yet, so they come up with their own ideas to describe things. If you can get them past "nice" - that is! "It was nice" my daughters have written a million times!

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    1. That's so true. I love what my kids come up with metaphor-wise, especially in their everyday conversation. I know what you mean about "nice." :)

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  5. Sounds like a really sweet and well-executed book. I'm definitely going to give it a look.Thanks for the great review!

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    1. I hope you enjoy it, Reader Noir. It's a real gem.

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  6. Glad you enjoyed this one too! I know what you mean on the just because everyone loves the book doesn't mean you will. So true on setting and description. That is something I am working on--giving my setting life, making it like a character.

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it too! I'm trying to work on the same things--slowing down my writing and taking more time with descriptions, especially setting descriptions, because it can say so much about the characters.

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  7. Sounds fascinating, and I haven't heard a whiff of it before nor even seen the cover! Thanks so much for the introduction--my head is already filling with readers (myself included) who seem like a great match. :D

    --Suzanne
    www.suzannewarr.com

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    1. Oh, I'm glad you found something you haven't heard of before! I'm sure you and your readers will enjoy it!

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  8. This has been on my list for a while now. Hope I can check it out of the library. Loved what you said about the description and metaphors. Also how it deals with poverty.

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    1. I was able to get it from my library, but it was a long wait. Yes, I think how it dealt with poverty was what really made it unique. And what a good theme for all readers.

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  9. I'd read about this book on another site and heard it was really well done.

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    1. I saw it was making the rounds when it first came out (last winter?). Thanks for stopping by, Alex!

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  10. I need to read this one! Love the premise and it sounds so sweet and touching.

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    1. It is really touching. I think you'll really enjoy it, Andrea!

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  11. I won that one in a giveaway and then read and reviewed it. I really liked it too. I knew I would. It's got such a great voice, doesn't it?

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    1. Yes, it was the voice that won me over right from page one. Auggie is such an interesting character and has such a unique way of expressing herself. I'll stay with a character like that for a long time.

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  12. This one I actually have heard of :) I want to read it!

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    1. That's cool, Liz! I hope you enjoy it! I really loved the language use in this one.

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  13. I'm so glad to hear you enjoyed this! I wanted to pick it up too, and now you've just solidified that. And I love getting peeks into a story. The snippets you posted make me think I'll really love the writing too.

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  14. This sounds like an interesting read. Thanks for the review!

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