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Lucky Strikes

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  762 ratings  ·  202 reviews
Set in Depression-era Virginia, this is the story of orphaned Amelia and her struggle to keep her siblings together.

With her mama recently dead and her pa sight unseen since birth, fourteen-year-old Amelia is suddenly in charge of her younger brother and sister, and of the family gas station. Harley Blevins, local king and emperor of Standard Oil, is in hot pursuit to clin
Kindle Edition, 320 pages
Published July 5th 2016 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
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Average rating 4.09  · 
Rating details
 ·  762 ratings  ·  202 reviews

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Hannah Greendale
After the death of her mother, fourteen-year-old Amelia must raise her younger siblings herself and operate their family-owned gas station amidst the Depression. As a minor, Amelia is poised to lose her siblings and the family business if she’s unable to discern the identity and location of her father. Opportunity arrives in the form of a homeless man who falls out of a passing truck. Amelia takes a chance on the filthy vagrant, hoping he can stand-in as a father figure until she comes of age.

Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin

When this beautiful little hardback came in the mail I felt I wanted to read it right then. This is a story about hard times and perseverance, family and what you will do to keep it all together.

Amelia's (Melia) mom died and they buried her in a grave in an area her mom liked to be. So now Melia is the sole owner of Brenda's Oasis, the gas station, grocery store, and vehicle repairs. Melia is still a child just a few years shy of being able t
Jul 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley, arc
Okay, to be completely honest, I requested this book because of its cover. I mean, of course, I also read the blurb, but the cover is what really tickled me bloomers: gorgeous! Thankfully, after having read the book, I can say the same for the actual story as well.

I think this might be the first time I only made one note on my Kindle while reading. I wasn't even searching for things to criticise because I was too damn busy with reading. I know right?!5VL2VD9.gif
And now that I'm done, I still can't think of
Sep 23, 2016 rated it liked it
it's a little hard to tell what age group this is meant to be for because it seems a little like middle grade but then other times, it seems like only an older reader would fully appreciate it.
plus there's lots of cursing.

i don't know about this one. initially i really liked it but when it was over i just felt really sad.

so many things went wrong for this poor family. and i think in their case, that the bad outweighed the good:/

i wasn't satisfied at all with the ending and it kind of just le
Aug 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya, 5-star, 2016
This is what YA books could be and so rarely are. This is about growing up and learning to trust and love(although not necessarily romantic love) and heartbreak and what a family is.
I Loved it, start to finish. The character of Melia, who tells, the story, is hard as nails. She just gets on with what she must do and being tough is how she gets through. She pushes and works hard and tries to keep everything together. And she somehow manages along the way to still show that she loves her brother a
Deb Tyo
Jun 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Fantastic story. Kept me reading almost in one sitting. However ==> target audience?

Kirkus Review cites an age range of 10-14 and says "upper-middle-grade." Not in my experience in sixth grade and eighth grade classrooms.

Way too much language in this one. And it's too bad because I think the story would have worked without the use of all of the expletives.

Gwen Dandridge
Sep 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I have about twenty books sitting on my bookshelf, half-started. Once I picked this one up I couldn't put it down. This is what good writing is from my point of view. He created an amazing set of characters, each created with such loving detail that they all but breathed on my afternoon snack.

These were not your milk toast and white bread characters but people who had flaws and spunk and failings. People I adored.

Louis Bayard gave me a picture of hard scrabble depression era life but with char
Jul 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Every book I’ve read by this author has been a five star read for me....

In this one, we meet Amelia, a fourteen year old girl who finds herself trying desperately to stop her family being torn apart.
She must hide the fact she is now having to run the family business by herself, whilst looking after her younger brother and sister.....
What she does to achieve this, and the obstacles she has to overcome, made me laugh and cry, made me angry at some characters and love others, and kept me completely
Jul 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I know I am not the target audience for a YA book (as I am 53), but I could not put this book down - I adored the narrator, who reminded me of no one so much as, gasp, Scout Finch from TKaM. Really. And Bayard's lyrical prose were a pleasure (plus, the story was intriguing) - really, this book had it all. Highly recommend! ...more
May 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Short and Sweet:

Excellent Southern representation + resilient protagonist + family feels rivaling those in Lilo & Stitch= 5 shining stars
To Elaborate…

When Amelia’s mother dies, Amelia is left alone in charge of her little sister and brother. The three of them aim to continue running their small, family gas station, but without a parent, the foster care people are sure to be at their door any second. Not to mention, Harley Blevins, runner of Standard Oil, is not above scheming to get their gas st
May 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Louis Bayard is really quite the chameleon. I first read him when he was writing mysteries including either fictional or historical characters like Tiny Tim( try him as a sleuth), Edgar Allan Poe (great idea!) and Vidocq, the first French police chief. I enjoyed all of these, but then he began to get a bit onto the Dan Brown bandwagon of secret societies and conspiracies, and he lost me. And then of all things, he com
Jul 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
After the death of their mother, Melia struggles to keep her siblings and their gas station going. Opportunity arrives in the form of a homeless man, and Melia takes a chance, hoping he can stand-in as a father figure. It’s a wonderful tale of survival against all odds, and how sometimes family can be found in the most unlikely places. I really liked all the characters and the story kept my attention throughout the whole book. The writing was beautiful, the story flowed all the way to the last s ...more
Aug 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This reminded me of the kind of book I read as a child and my mother read in hers; where pluck and grit and humanity triumph over hardship. Reading the story of of Amelia, the oldest sister caring for her younger siblings while running the family gas station in the 1930s I was swept up in the story. This novel, like many classics for that age provide both entertainment and sustenance. Reading it gave me a wonderful shot of encouragement, (the character's pluck and grit are contageous) as well as ...more

This book was a lot more mature than I was expecting and quite depressing at times. There was fair amount of profanity as well, which was a bit disconcerting for a middle age/young adult book.
Apr 02, 2020 rated it liked it
Lucky Strikes is a lighthearted, young adult novel about orphans running their family’s gas station during the Great Depression. Amelia is only 14-years-old, but after her mother dies, she is left in charge of a younger brother and sister. She also manages the family gas station and is a terrific mechanic. She never knew her father and is worried that she and her brother and sister will be placed in the foster care system. When a hobo shows up, she presses him into service as her missing father ...more
Jul 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 7th-grade
Wow! Two 5 star books in one summer. This author takes his readers seriously. Believes they are ready to read a book that puts them in the adult world but through a child's eyes. And what a child. Melia Hoyle, a gas station pagan who describes her late mother as someone "You could shake her all day, and not a single beef would fall out."
Rethinking this...maybe some of the stuff he includes is too adult! Need to know what some other readers think.
The setting is the mountains of Virginia in WWII.
Nov 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wow. Best book I have read in a long time!
James (JD) Dittes
There isn't a lot of luck to be found in Walnut Ridge, Virginia, for Melia, her brother Earle, and her sister, Janey. There isn't a father in sight, and they've just put their Mama in the ground--and all that she has left them is a Blue Ridge mountain of debt and the family's roadside gas station.

Determined to keep herself and her siblings out of "Fos. Ter. Care," a solution (of sorts) rolls off the back of a coal carrier and falls at Melia's feet. Hiram Watts isn't much, but no one in Walnut Ri
Dan Radovich
Sep 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I am going to get this out of the way first: I am a huge fan of Bayard's work. When I heard he was writing a YA novel I did cringe a little. Why? Why join that bandwagon of adult fiction writers dipping their toes into the YA pool? I had little doubt that he could succeed, his talent is that good. I opened the cover and as he has accomplished with his adult fiction, I was transported to Depression era Virginia and found myself in the company of Amelia and her two siblings. (Being of a certain ag ...more
Barb Kelly
I highly recommend this book. It's the mid-thirties and Virginia is deep in the recession. and Melia is taking care of her brother and sister, the family gas station and fighting off a takeover by one of the richest guys in town. Tough talking and not at all sentimental she must power through more trials than Job on her own, until Hiram comes to town and she starts to get an inkling of what family can mean. There are lots of Virginia references and local readers will enjoy the tie-ins. ...more
Jul 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful tender story set during the depression in the hills of Virginia. The story of 3 orphans struggling to keep their mama's dream alive. I loved this book so much I am definitely reading more of this author's books! ...more
Jul 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
You can check out my review of this book here, plus I have a giveaway running for it until August 29th!
Oct 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Louis Bayard's "Lucky Strikes" is a selection for my Chapter and Verse book club's mock Printz list. I have read several Depression era novels ("Lucky Strikes" takes place in 1935) of late that have all been outstanding - "Full of Beans" by Jennifer Holm, "Tru and Nelle" by G. Neri, and "Echo" by Pam Munoz Ryan, for example. "Lucky Strikes is a wonderful addition to this list. And, speaking of lists, "Lucky Strikes" has shown up on several "best" lists for 2016, as well as having received severa ...more
Apr 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
This story takes you back in time to the depression ear and into the lives of Amelia, her two younger siblings, and a "hobo" that is dropped off by truck at Amelia's family service station. The themes of survival, acceptance, and family are the focus of this historical fiction young adult novel. Very enjoyable! ...more
Kaye Sivori
Aug 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Very cute story - I really enjoyed this read...
Nov 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Depressing in the way all depression era fiction is, but also a truly heartwarming story where, in the words of Oscar Wilde, "the good end happily and the bad unhappily". ...more
Feb 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5* Legit got this as a cover buy from BookOutlet. Was blown away by what I discovered inside. It now has a home among my favorites. Everyone needs to read this. K, bye.
Brooke Nadzam
Oct 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dcf-books
Melia is a tough girl who I fell in love with right away. In this book, she figures out what family means, and when she brings Hiram into hers the fact that it’s not about blood is made clear. The personality traits that are revealed in the children are indicative of people who have been through trauma without being stereotyped.

My one criticism is that I felt like the children started out acting and being described as significantly younger than at the end of the novel, and I was okay with it un
Randy M.
Jul 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, first-reads
I don’t normally read YA novels. Whenever I see that acronym it conjures up images of the Twilight Saga, and its ilk, and I steer clear. However, I have enjoyed Louis Bayard’s historical fiction very much and this didn’t seem like typical YA subject matter, so I was interested in checking it out. I found Lucky Strikes to be classic Bayard storytelling, definitely deserving to be read by more than just the YA audience. I hope that label doesn’t put off some folks from what is an engrossing Depres ...more
Jun 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Review copy provided by NetGalley

Set in the Depression Era, this was a story of three children orphaned with nothing more to their names than the humble gas station that their mother had operated. I didn't know quite what to expect when I volunteered to give this one a shot. In general, I tend to not enjoy stories set in this era. I recognize their importance, but I don't normally look back on the reading experience and think, "Wow, that might have been one of the best books I've read this year.
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A staff writer for, Bayard has written articles and reviews for the New York Times, the Washington Post,, and Preservation, among others. Bayard lives in Washington, D.C.

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