In The Thing About Luck by Cynthia Kadohata, Summer Miyamoto is a typical 12-year-old who fights with her little brother and learns that her grandma may seem crabby, but loves her dearly. She is obsessed with mosquitoes because Summer almost died from malaria when a mosquito bit her. She has created a diary of many mosquito drawings which is kind of weird in itself. Summer is an interesting character with the usual problems of a girl in middle school.
Summer’s mother and father go back to Japan to take care of their elderly relatives and she and her brother must go with their grandparents to harvest acres of wheat fields. Her grandmother is old fashioned and seems to follow strict Japanese values. Summer does not think her grandmother is fair and expects too much from her. And lately it seems as if the family only has bad luck. During the hot months of the harvest season, Summer becomes more mature. She summons inner courage she did not think she had and learns that a person can create her own good luck.
Though the book is written for young adults, it seems more like a story for an older person, an adult who reflects on moments of her life as an adolescent who fights personal insecurities and tries to understand parents and grandparents who seem to be overbearing.
The author writes in an easy-to-read rhythm. Kadohata is excellent at creating sensory pictures of the wheat fields that Summer’s grandfather must harvest before the rains come and ruin the crop. However, many readers, whether young or old, may have trouble relating to the context of the story because the climax of the novel revolves around the use of large combines which are used to harvest wheat and an element of many farmers’ lives.