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Book Review: These Unlucky Stars by Gillian McDunn


'Annie has always been the odd one out in her family. Her practical dad and brother just don’t understand the way she thinks. Ever since her mother left a few years ago, Annie has been reluctant to get close to anyone.

When a poor decision lands Annie in hot water, she must make amends by watching her elderly neighbor’s weird dog all summer. As Annie begins to connect with her neighbor Gloria, it becomes clear that Gloria won’t be able to live on her own for much longer. But it’s this brief and important friendship that gives Annie the confidence to let people in, and see how rich life can be when you decide to make your own luck and chart your own path to happiness.'


Annie has decided that no matter how hard she tries, she's just unlucky. She thinks it must be true because her mum was always saying it - the same mum that left them when Annie was four years old. Annie believes she is the reason her mother left for being SO unlucky, and it doesn't help that nobody else in the family understands Annie's constant ability to either break something, someone or herself.

Annie has become secluded, reluctant to work in groups and purposefully avoiding people at lunchtime, so the school arranges for her to be mentored. She narrowly avoids it by lying, but inadvertently ends up befriending an older lady Gloria when she has a fall (a fall Annie feels responsible for after an attempt at 'Ding-Dong Ditch'). Throughout this story Annie realises Gloria is more than a crabby old lady, and that a potential new stepmother might not be such a bad thing.

For years Annie has clung to the idea that her mother might come back and turn their family of three back to a family of four, so Dad's new girlfriend isn't on Annie's good list for a large part of the story. She idolises her mother and finds it hard to swallow that her relationship with her mum will never be what it was, but soon learns that you don't need your birth mother in your life in order to have a mum.

Through Gloria, Annie realises that she is more interesting and capable than she believes and that she should give other people a chance. Annie is clumsy and a daydreamer, so she often feels misunderstood by her practical, left-brained family and mean students, but Gloria is a breath of fresh air with her vibrance and lack of shame. You cannot help but root for both characters by the climax of the story!

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