Lolly Luck is lucky by name, lucky by nature. She’s the type of girl who always wins prizes at the fun fair and it might be worth asking her to guess this week’s winning lottery numbers too. When Lolly returns home on her 11th birthday to discover that her father has lost his job, it seems that Lolly’s lucky streak has finally run out.
Lolly Luck is the debut novel by Ellie Daines and is written for children aged nine and over. Set in suburban England, it follows the reactions of Lolly and her family as they come to terms with her father’s redundancy and the subsequent loss of the family home. In the midst of this chaos, Lolly overhears her parents arguing one evening and learns a secret that will change all of their lives forever.
Books like Lolly Luck can be important tools in helping children comes to terms with difficult circumstances. Lolly is a strong character and her reactions to her plight are believable and endearing. There are strong themes in the book such as bullying, honesty, integrity, and the importance of family relationships and, again, these are approached in a realistic manner by the author. This is also a story of personal growth and development as we witness Lolly emerge from a privileged, rather sheltered life as the youngest child in the family to become a more responsible and considerate child.
One of the strongest aspects of Lolly Luck is the focus on extended and atypical family structures. It would be difficult to elaborate without giving away too much of the story but a strong theme in the book is adapting to changing family circumstances. It is interesting to learn about the dynamics and culture of the family too, especially the judgement of Lolly’s father by her mother’s St. Lucian family despite the fact that they are carrying a deep secret.
I felt that the narrative faltered somewhat in the approach to the concept of luck. It is stressed throughout the book that people aren’t born lucky, that they make their own luck. While the main aspects of the story are resolved in the end and Lolly does grow as an individual, this does seem to be more due to fortunate circumstances than the actions of the characters in the story. I feel the book is missing a truly strong adult character who is both a good role model and a mentor. Two of Lolly’s teachers show kindness and loyalty towards her but I feel that ultimately the message could have been delivered better with the presence of such a character.
Despite this single reservation, I would recommend Lolly Luck and believe it could be a valuable discussion tool in approaching themes of diversity, integrity, bullying and, of course, adversity and changing family circumstances. The book is published on the Random House imprint Andersen Press and is available January 5, 2012 in the UK and February 28, 2012 in the US.
I give Lolly Luck 3.5 stars out of 5.