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Just My Luck: 12/27/16
Just My Luck by Cammie McGovern takes the inability to ride a bicycle and turns it into a long weird metaphor about autism and brain damage. Benny Brown is in fourth grade and it's not turning out how he's been promised it would. His father's recovering from an aneurism, his brother is autistic, and the great teacher he was promised turns out to be forgetful and distracted.
Early on the book focuses almost exclusively on Benny's feelings of guilt for his father's condition. They had been practicing bike riding when the first attack happened. Benny feels that if he hadn't messed up with riding a bike when he was younger and could ride one now his father wouldn't have been in a position to end up in the hospital. Realistically though the aneurism would have no matter what the dad was doing.
The more interesting piece of the story, frankly, is the oddly behaving teacher. From how he's described I figured he was also suffering from some sort of mental decline — early onset Alzheimers or some other form of dementia. The answer isn't something else and gives Benny a chance to come out of his months long feeling of being nothing but bad luck for those around him.
The plot is tidy but Benny never really came to life for me. The characters are there playing their roles — but they aren't living them.