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Just My Luck: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Tajuana Butler
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $13.95
Kindle Price: $9.99
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

Today is no ordinary day for thirty-eight-year-old Lanita Lightfoot. Today represents the culmination of years of struggle and sacrifice. Today she graduates from college. But first, Lanita’s husband treats her to a day of beauty at an upscale black salon in Los Angeles, during which she shares her story with the staff and the other customers–and what a story it is. . .

Talk about an entrance. Lanita was born in a little corner store in the thick of the Watts riots. Her untimely entry into the world saved the joint from being sacked by looters–and the shop owner showed his gratitude by giving Lanita’s mother, Aretha, a decade of rent-free residence. But when the reward dries up and Aretha takes to the bottle and a no-good loser boyfriend, Lanita’s life takes a sharp turn for the worse. Forced to live in a cramped, dingy apartment, Lanita longs for her real daddy to ride to the rescue. But when he finally shows up, she finds he isn’t quite the knight she’s dreamed of.

Still, Lanita is determined to make something of herself. A straight-A student throughout high school, she is accepted to Howard University in Washington, D.C., and marvels that she’s finally escaped the ghetto. As Lanita embarks on the journey of becoming a woman, she encounters icons including Michael Jackson and Todd Bridges, who help transform her perception of her own life. But one year short of graduation, she must return to Los Angeles to care for the ailing Aretha–an unpleasant reality that leads her to join in a sordid West Hollywood strip club and farther away from her dreams–until the fateful night her high school heart throb shows up at the club and shows her that the easy money she makes comes with a high price.

The bestselling author of The Night Before Thirty, Tajuana “TJ” Butler delivers one of her most richly imagined, complex, and beloved characters yet–and delves into the void that many young women spend their lifetime trying to fill: the one left by a father’s absence.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Multiple twists of fate enliven this familiar tale of a young black woman's rise from poverty by an Essence bestselling author. Luck has smiled on Lanita Lightfoot since birth: when her mother, Aretha, goes into labor during the Watts riots, the crowd spares the store where she has taken refuge; in return, the grateful owner gives them a free apartment and financial help. Twelve years later, though, the owner's son evicts them, and they're thrust into poverty, while Aretha's starting to seem like "an outright alcoholic." Things look up when Lanita makes a new friend and her father appears--but neither sticks around. A librarian plays Lanita's fairy godmother this time, guiding her on a path that takes her to Howard University, where Lanita thrives until Aretha's illness forces her to drop out and become a stripper. There's more roller-coastering to come, but there's never any doubt that Lanita will triumph (nor should there be). But credibility is strained by more than the plot: the narrative unfolds during a salon visit in which Lanita so charms the staff her visit is free, and so many celebrities cross her path (the Jackson Five, Len Bias, Hugh Hefner) she ought to be in the autograph business. Butler's (The Night Before Thirty) latest novel is like cotton candy: sweet and fleeting, lasting for a moment before it dissolves.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Today is a day to remember: at 38 years of age, Lanita Lightfoot is finally graduating from college. Her husband is treating her to a day at the spa so that she can have a complete celebration. She receives special treatment from the staff--Jimmy Choo styles her hair, Miss Lina gives her a facial, and Deidra Michelle polishes her nails. In between the services, Lanita shares how she has been lucky all of her life. Her luck began when she was born during the 1965 Watts riots, and her birth prevented a man's store from being burned. She tells of her experiences in elementary school, high school, and her full scholarship to Howard University, in Washington, D.C. During her junior year, while home for her annual Christmas visit, she decided to stay and take care of her ailing mother, Aretha. When Lanita married Jermaine Powers, her luck truly began to change. Butler has written a mature and engrossing story compellingly filled with historical references and real people. Lillian Lewis
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • File Size: 522 KB
  • Print Length: 260 pages
  • Publisher: One World/Ballantine (March 25, 2009)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002361L20
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,525,016 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Please get inspired TJ! January 1, 2006
I read Just My Luck and did not think it was very good but wanted to give TJ another chance so I also read Hand-Me-Down Heartache and my opinion has not changed. TJ is not a very good writer in my opinion. Why write a novel that has no inspiration behind it? The characters are so flat that they all seem to be speaking from the same point of view. There is no depth or emotion coming off the pages at all. She describes the scenes waaaay too much. The reader can't even set up a visual that is based on the character's emotions and feelings. After every piece of dialogue TJ will tell is what, why, when, where. Where is the imagination...the creativity? While the main character tells her story in the beauty shop, the reader does not get the chance to feel the story because TJ will stop and tell us the phone rang in the shop and somebody had to answer it or another beautician was coming in the room. Why? It rarely had anything to do with the story at all. I found it to be very annoying and totally break up any interest I had in the main character's flashback. I only finished the book because I always finish books. It was very hard to finish due to TJ's very poor storytelling. Also, for a story that goes back in time TJ had a hard time keeping her slang terms straight. She would make references to slang terms the characters used in the 70s and 80s when the terms didn't really show up until the 90s. I feel like after reading this book I am certainly ready to self-publish my own. Reading books like this one boosts your personal opinion of your own writing skills!! Based on this bad read, I am ready to get my stuff out there. If TJ can do it I know that I am ready!!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Blessings not luck May 2, 2005
Author Tajuana "TJ" Butler has done it again with her fourth novel, Just My Luck. Ms. Butler introduces the reader to Lanita Lightfoot and the family and friends that share various experiences with her. Lanita is 38-years old and is getting ready for her long awaited college graduation by going to a spa & hair salon. While at the salon, Lanita engages in a conversation about her life and the many experiences she has had over time. Lanita talks about her birth to an alcoholic mother (Aretha) and a lucky father (Paul). Born in a store during the 1965 Watts riot, Lanita's arrival saved the store from being vandalized. Lanita and her mother were rewarded with a rent-free stay at an apartment owned by the storeowner. She considers herself lucky because of the experiences she had in the past. Butler allows the reader a stroll down memory lane, as via Lanita, readers are exposed to several encounters with authors and celebrities (including the Jackson 5). Lanita learns about the many blessings she has received from the ups and downs she has experienced. She also learns to trust in God.

This novel is very entertaining and also gives a history lesson as the story unfolds. It is different than Ms. Butler's previous novels because of the historical facts given during various time periods in Lanita's life. Ms. Butler has given readers something engaging and at times educational to read. I recommend this book and look forward to future novels written by Tajuana "TJ" Butler.

Reviewed by Phyllis Ann Street

APOOO BookClub
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars In God We Trust June 9, 2005
By Louise
I read some of the other reviews for this book and had to agree with another reader, Phyllis. This book was a step into a different direction for Ms. Butler. I realy enjoyed this book.

I love when authors can reached into another scope and not always be singled as Erotica, Mystery or Love/Hate Relationships, but can tap into something different to keep the readers on their toes.

Lanita takes me back to the days of Jimmie Carter, Powder Cocaine, Rodney King and riotting for causes. Lanita Lightfoot aka Desire has experienced things other people, like myself, read about. Born in the activity of the Watts Riots, went through up and downs with Aretha, (her single mother) and a lucky father, Paul, who came into her life and left just as quick. Lanita's experiences has brought her to this upscale salon where she rehashes her days with the Jackson 5, Todd Bridges and Len Bias just to name a few up until she graduates from college many years later alongside her childhood friend, (now husband) Jermaine.

I am looking forward to Ms. Butler touching our minds again soon.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Empowering April 24, 2005
I have read each of Ms Butler's books, and I found myself enjoying this one a lot; It could be the twists and turns that Lanita had to experience throughout her life; being born during the Watts Riots, but somehow reaping unknown blessings behind it; Going through various periods of highs and lows that could either help or break you. It could be the various celebrities she met(the Jacksons,Iceberg Slim aka Robert Beck,Dorothy West,Len Bias etc) and the events that made our life in the 70s and 80s; What a great story; I could barely keep away from it and I read it in a day; One of the best Tajuana has written; What I find so empowering about it is that no matter what Lanita goes through, she always manages to get on top; that I found very empowering;
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4.0 out of 5 stars My Silver Dollar August 3, 2005
Lanita Lightfoot Powers is a thirty-eight year old married mother of one, embarking on life by finally graduating from college in JUST MY LUCK by Tajuana "TJ" Butler. As the story opens, Lanita appears at a trendy salon in Los Angeles to have a facial, manicure, pedicure and her hair styled; a graduation gift from her husband. In order to understand what led to this eventful occasion, Butler takes us back to Lanita's roots, alternating between the past and the present.

Lanita was born at the height of the Watts riots and delivered inside a store owned by Jewish proprietors. Because her birth was taking place, local residents assisted instead of looting. Because of the owners' gratefulness, Lanita and her mother, Aretha, lived rent-free for many years. But their luck did not hold out and the two were forced to move and live on welfare. The one thing that Lanita had in her favor was her love of reading. This love exposed her to a world she was dying to explore. On the other hand, Aretha's vice became alcohol and the illnesses that go hand-in-hand with it.

I enjoyed the structure that Butler used by allowing Lanita to tell her story to the employees of the salon which inevitably led us back to the beginning of her life, through elementary school, junior and senior high school, a stint at Howard University, her return home and the climax of her college graduation. Lanita's voice is serene, her story sad. JUST MY LUCK highlights what can occur when well meaning friends step in to look after a child. The imagery portrayed allowed readers to focus on a vivid mental picture of the Watts section of Los Angeles during a time of upheaval. Lanita always believed she was lucky and throughout we see her belief in the Almighty as her one and only lucky charm.

Reviewed by Dawn R. Reeves

of The RAWSISTAZ™ Reviewers
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved It!
This was a very good book. It was such a feel good story. It
reminded me of Forrest Gump. The main character was so lovable. Read more
Published on March 12, 2008 by Erika
3.0 out of 5 stars Lucky and Ludicrous
I was actually enjoying the story until the name dropping of the real life celebrities began - Michael Jackson, Len Bias, Hugh Hefner? Give me a break. Read more
Published on November 10, 2007 by Ms. 90
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable
I enjoyed seeing Lanita's life come full circle. In my opinion, Ms Butler did a nice job of illustrating the strength and intrinsic motivation of the African American woman. Read more
Published on April 13, 2007 by T. Bush
5.0 out of 5 stars Stroke of luck...Stroke of genius
I was drawn into this story from the first page. And I could identify with some of the struggles Lanita faced amongst her peers growing up. This story was simply dynamic. Read more
Published on February 24, 2007 by Sheyelise
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Ol' Days
This is the first book I've read by Mrs. Butler, wanted to read "The Night Before Thirty", but never got around to it; I picked up this book, having no clue what it was about(the... Read more
Published on April 14, 2006 by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Walk Down Memory Lane
I read Just My Luck during a weekend at the beach. It was a perfect choice for relaxing by the ocean with few worries on my mind. Read more
Published on September 1, 2005 by Joel McIver/author
3.0 out of 5 stars Just Okay...
I picked up this book because I have read Ms. Butler's other three novels. While I think those novels were great, this one was just okay. Read more
Published on April 3, 2005 by Kari B. Gipson
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