The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky by Holly Schindler, Dial Press, 2014. ISBN: 9780803737259. Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS
Auggie Jones lives with Grandpa Gus, who is a trash hauler. She never knew her father and as far as she knows, her mom is somewhere in California, making her way as a model and maybe a movie star. Mom’s picture covers most of the ad on a big billboard in town. Auggie and her best friend call the spot under it their wishing place.
When their school got condemned, Auggie, Irma Jean, Lexie and Harold have to attend a newer school. Bad things begin happening on the first day of school. Lexie falls under the spell of Victoria, the snooty daughter of the head of the town beautification committee. Before you know it, she’s stopped being friends with Auggie and Irma Jean, as well as letting Victoria talk her into cutting her long red hair. Losing a friend is bad, losing her to someone who is junior member of a committee that is determined to condemn your entire neighborhood is really bad.
Auggie and Gus as well as everyone else in Serendipity Place, the area of town where they live receives a notice from the town beautification committee, listing vague and arbitrary violations of town codes and really scary fines. While everyone is shocked at first, Auggie and Gus get creative, starting by using Gramp’s welding equipment to turn scrap metal into lawn art. Unfortunately, this only results in additional violations and a growing fine amount. However, the shared threat starts moving people in the neighborhood closer.
How Auggie, Gus, Harold and the rest of the neighbors decide to fight back, coupled with what Auggie learns when she tries to run away to find her mom because she’s convinced her mother can fix anything, ramp up the tension before the book closes in a real feel good way.
This is a great book for middle school kids to read, even as a family or classroom read aloud. Kids who come from a tough economic situation, or who have suffered the loss of a parent will really relate to Auggie and her friends.