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Lucky (Avery Sisters Trilogy) Hardcover – April 29, 2008

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Product Details

  • Series: Avery Sisters Trilogy
  • Hardcover: 233 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTeen; First Edition edition (April 29, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060890436
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060890438
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.8 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,750,227 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Fourteen-year-old Phoebe had never really considered the role that wealth and popularity played in her “lucky” life until both are threatened after her mom suddenly loses her job. Now her parents can’t afford to pay for Phoebe’s expensive eighth-grade graduation party or the green Vera Wang dress she was dreaming of wearing to it. At first, she tries to convince her sisters and four best friends that everything is still “all good.” But after some tearful soul-searching, Phoebe faces up to the truth, and she discovers that she’s still rich in friendship and also lucky in love. This entertaining, albeit predictable, first volume in a planned trilogy will appeal to Meg Cabot and Maureen Johnson groupies, as well as fans of Michael Simmons’ Pool Boy (2003). Vail’s insightful characterizations of teen girls and their shifting loyalties is right on target, and her insertion of several uncomfortably realistic moments, such as when Phoebe’s mom’s credit card is publicly confiscated, will leave readers squirming in embarrassed sympathy. Grades 7-10. --Jennifer Hubert


“This is superior for its realism, its moderation, and its understated complexity of characters and relationships. Readers will drink up the drama and impatiently await the planned follow up titles.” (Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review))

“Vail (You, Maybe) again demonstrates a penetrating insight into the concerns of young teen girls, this time upending the conventions of the rich-girl novel… Readers will absorb this in one fell swoop.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))

“Kindness and understanding emerge in unexpected, fresh, and satisfying ways, and readers will be looking forward to finding out what lies ahead for the Avery family” (School Library Journal)

More About the Author

Rachel Vail Author Biography

1. What is your favorite childhood memory?

Can't say I have just one, but here is one among many: My father, an avid amateur gardener, had determined to get rid of a rock in the middle of his flower bed in our backyard. The rock turned out to be the size of Tennessee, but he just kept digging for a few years, trying to budge the thing, which created an ever-changing landscape for backyard adventures. My younger brother Jon was my constant companion out there, and our favorite game was "Time Machine," which involved a mysterious metal thing sticking up from the ground - obviously a gear shift for moving into the past or future. Jon was the pilot, in charge of bringing us to different times, depending on how he moved the mysterious metal thing. I was the "teller": I would tell the story of what time period we landed in, what was happening, the dangers we faced, which bad guys were chasing us around the back, the rock, and the Way Back (where we weren't even supposed to go but we did; don't tell!), what we needed to collect around the yard -- a magic gem, a twig from the tree of wonder -- and how we would be able to get back to our time Machine to get back to home and the present when my Mom called to us to come in for dinner.

My younger son was complaining yesterday that the problem with grownups is that they don't play as runny-aroundy as kids. He is absolutely right.

2. What is your favorite memory from when you were a teenager?

How about my least favorite but most useful? I was at a dance at the Rye Golf Club with my best friend, Jill. We had decided to really go for it, get all duded up and mascara'ed. I wore my hottest outfit -- a one-piece, strapless pantsuit. (It was the early 80's; that's what was hot. Trust me.) We had practiced dancing all week: step-together-clap; slightly bored expression combined with slight head-bobbing. Luck was with us at first -- two cute boys came right over to ask us to dance. I looked slightly bored while repeating my mantra internally: step-together-clap, nod. The boy was smiling at me, checking me out. I was succeeding! Jill step-together-clapped her way to my side and said, "Don't panic, but your top fell off." I looked down and there for everybody to see was my white strapless bra, looking like an ace bandage across my lack-of-anything to hold up my wilted outfit. I ran straight to the Ladies' Room with my arms crossed over my chest. Jill was right behind me, and sat beside me on the cold linoleum as I cried. "I was naked," I wailed. "Only briefly," Jill assured me. "I am never leaving this Ladies' Room," I told her. "Okay," she said. "I'll stay here with you." "Forever?" I asked. "Sure," she said. "We'll be two little old ladies here when they come to wreck the building, but we still won't leave." "I'm serious," I said. "Me too," she answered.

I recall that moment whenever I am writing and my character needs to feel the soul-burning humiliation of being exposed in front of the world -- whether figuratively or literally. I can still feel the cold shivers in my fingers, still smell the disinfectant in the restroom, still hear the distant echoes of the disco beat beyond as I sat there feeling utterly stupid and naked and embarrassed. But I also use it when I want to feel how reassuring it is for a character to realize a friend is willing to stick with her forever, no matter what.

3. How did you end up becoming a writer?

What I always loved to do was read, tell stories, imagine being other people, eavesdrop, and not wear shoes. What else could I end up becoming?

4. What other jobs have you tried?

I worked in a book store, which I loved except when people interrupted my reading by trying to make purchases. I was a really good babysitter and a lousy magician but kind of a fun clown at kids' birthday parties. I worked in theater -- acting, directing, selling tickets, dressing and undressing actors (!), ironing costumes, sewing stuff... I still can't make buttons stay on all that well, but I am a pretty decent ironer. I also tutored for SAT's, and GRE's, as well as regular school subjects from bio and algebra to English and writing, and specialized in working with kids who have learning troubles.

5. What first appealed to you about writing for teens?

Well, I started writing my first book when I was 22, so I'd had some recent experience. But really there were two things. I had always looked young for my age, and used to vow to myself that I would remember what it really felt like to be a kid and NEVER condescend when I grew up but rather bear witness to and show respect for the struggles of metamorphosis experienced by a teen going through it. Also, a brilliant playwrighting professor I had in college told us that drama exists in the life-or-death moments: those instances when the character's life is at mortal risk are the scenes you should write. I realized that he had just described pretty much every moment of being a teenager. Just a walk down the corridor in eighth grade can feel like a death march, if somebody looks at you sideways, then slides her eyes away and bends to whisper to somebody else, who turns immediately to look at you -- and snickers. Oh, dread. Life could end or begin at any moment, beside your locker, and the murder weapon, like your pride, might never be recovered. That's what continues to appeal to me about writing for teens: metamorphosis. It's so awful and wonderful and public and extreme.

6. Where do you get your ideas for your books?

Mostly, honestly, in my head. I pick up details of phrases or styles of sitting from watching people all the time, and listening, eavesdropping, on the subway, in the market, in the changing room of a department store. Kids write to me about what they are going through, and of course I have my own journals to re-read, so I mine my own memories and fears and hopes. But mostly my ideas come from wondering: what would happen if my parents suddenly lost all their money? ... if I always thought of myself as kind of funny-looking and suddenly I was chosen for being gorgeous? What if I discovered I was profoundly gifted in some way? What if I learned something shatteringly disappointing about my mom? What if I fell in love with somebody I shouldn't? What if I lied to my best friend and then had to keep lying so she wouldn't find out? What if my best friend lied to me and I found out? What would be the worst thing that could happen to me? What would be the best? But I am not asking those questions of myself, Rachel Vail. I build a character over the course of many months, and then ask those kinds of questions of her - until I get to the start of an answer that is so interesting to me that I have to write a book to find out what happens.

6. Who in your life has especially inspired or motivated you?

So many people have motivated and inspired me -- teachers who asked for revisions and edits and focus; librarians who found books for me and communicated their passion to me; friends who are funny and honest about whatever they are going through and so articulate about expressing their frustrations and ambitions; my husband who believes in me and laughs at all the right moments; my kids who come home with stories and ask to hear mine, again and again, and then give me harsh but loving (and smart) editorial feedback. My brother taught me to tell stories by wanting to play them with me; my parents were my first and most enthusiastic audience (before my kids came along, at least.) Now editors and my agent, who are some of my first readers, press me to think deeper, go further, try new challenges. I'm also inspired by great writers: when I read something I love, I read it again and again, trying to figure out how did he or she DO that? I want to move people the way my favorite writers (from John Steinbeck to Judy Blume to Bruce Springsteen) move me. And finally, readers who write to me with their honest and powerful reactions to my books, asking for sequels and for clarification of what happens after the book ends, who let me know that my characters live on beyond the page, in them -- they are my greatest current inspiration.

7. What do you consider to be the most fun part of your job?

The absolute most fun thing for me as a writer is getting to the point in a book, usually about 20 or more drafts in, when a sentence is changed, sometimes by cutting three words or substituting one phrase for four -- and suddenly the character has just said something so right for her, so true and funny and wise and so unique to that character that nobody else could've said it. That just makes my whole day. Man, I could be happy for a week off one great sentence.

8. What part of your job do you find the most challenging?

The first 19 drafts.

9. If you had to assign a book title to your life, what would it be?

I'm not sure. I'm hoping there will be many more years before that book is done. Maybe, by then, it will be: The Most Brilliant, Happy, Successful, Generous Person Ever. But for right now, I think I would have to go with the title of my new paperback book, which could apply with perhaps less irony to my own phenomenally blessed life: LUCKY.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Teen Reads on July 24, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Eighth-grader Phoebe Avery knows she's lucky. She lives in a luxurious development and has a backyard pool, a housekeeper, a nanny and the freedom to simply throw out a tea kettle or a toaster when it goes on the fritz.

Phoebe also has a great family. Her father is a humble kindergarten teacher, and her beautiful, high-powered mother's financial job funds the family's super-comfortable lifestyle. Her two older sisters, Quinn and Allison, have lives of their own, but they're almost always available when their little sister needs them. Phoebe also has four excellent friends. Sure, her best friend Kirstyn can be bossy and spoiled at times, but they've been close for four years, and they're looking forward to taking high school by storm.

Together, Phoebe and her friends are planning the biggest, best, most glamorous middle school graduation party (lots of) money can buy. So what if the custom invitations, live band, photographer, food and decorations cost a fortune? Phoebe's parents have never talked about money, and Phoebe knows that anything she wants --- including money for a party or that perfect green party dress --- is hers for the asking.

That is, until her mother is abruptly fired following a series of bad investment decisions at her job. Phoebe doesn't really understand what her mom did --- all she knows is that when her mom's credit cards get declined and they have to start laying off household staff, her family might actually have to start thinking, and talking, about money after all.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Rachael Stein VINE VOICE on June 10, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Phoebe Avery is about to graduate from middle school, and she couldn't be more thrilled. But it's mostly the graduation party that she's excited about, because it's a chance to be with her best friends having fun in a fabulous dress. But something goes wrong. It turns out that Phoebe's mother has lost her job. Now the family is in a financial crisis. Phoebe can no longer afford to pay her share for the party.

She's too embarrassed to tell her friends her economic situation. Even though she's been friends with these girls since elementary school, she doesn't quite trust them completely, especially her friend Kirstyn, who seems even more self-centered than usual. Phoebe isn't very close to her two older sisters, so she can't really confide in them. Her parents are too stressed out. To top that off, she's not quite sure if she like likes Luke. Phoebe has no one to turn to. She needs to stick it out by herself.

When I first read the summary for Lucky, I thought that it was going to be another book like Gossip Girl, but I was wrong. The summary says that there is a "family scandal," but I thought that a rich family losing money was hardly scandalous, though that is just my opinion. I was actually glad that Lucky wasn't one of those shallow teenager books, and it was a refreshing read.

Lucky was a thoroughly enjoyable book for me even though it would be better for the middle school crowd. Phoebe's character is funny, and while she isn't extremely deep, she isn't shallow either. It was easy to sympathize with her. The ending was a little too cheesy for my taste, but I appreciated that Phoebe was making amends with her family, friends, and potential boyfriend. I was glad that Phoebe could find her inner strength.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on June 24, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This was a surprisingly good book. When I first started it, I thought I was reading some middle school version of Gossip Girls with all of its talk of who likes whom and who found the best dress to wear to the party. It made me question if I would finish it, but I thought, hey, if Meg Cabot recommended this book there has to be something good in there. And about half way through I began seeing it.

This isn't a book about shallow girls finding shallow things to talk about. It's about seemingly shallow girls finding depth in friendship. It's about how we all have those moments of a total breakdown in communication that make us make fools of ourselves. It's about growing up and growing apart and coming back together in the end.

While the market is kind of flooded with books about girls and friendship, these books are needed. They help us (and especially teenage girls) realize we are not alone in the things we deal with. And no matter how small or trivial seeming our struggles are, they are real to us and they change us.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By TeensReadToo on April 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Phoebe, the youngest of the Avery sisters, is graduating from middle school. Her life seems perfect. She and her four best friends will be having the party of the year, she has an eye on the perfect dress, and the promise of high school's new beginnings. But when Phoebe's mom starts acting weird, and her friends start alienating her, the perfect conclusion to her eighth-grade year is at stake.

Can Phoebe pull it together and do what's right, even if it means swallowing her pride and forgoing what she wants most?

LUCKY is the wholly enjoyable first novel in Rachel Vail's new trilogy. Phoebe is a nicely relatable narrator who nearly anyone can empathize with. Her problems are those that we've all faced at one time or another, reminding us once again that you don't have to have to be privileged to be able to solve them with your dignity intact.

Witty and engaging, by the time this coming-of-age story is spun, you'll feel truly lucky to read it.

Reviewed by: The Compulsive Reader
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