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Just My Luck

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  1,021 ratings  ·  206 reviews
Fourth grade is not going at all how Benny Barrows hoped. He hasn’t found a new best friend. He’s still not a great bike rider—even though his brother George, who’s autistic, can do tricks. And worst of all, he worries his dad’s recent accident might be all his fault. Benny tries to take his mom’s advice and focus on helping others, and to take things one step at a time. B ...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published February 23rd 2016 by HarperCollins
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Average rating 4.10  · 
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 ·  1,021 ratings  ·  206 reviews

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Sep 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
When it feels like everything is falling apart, Benny keeps going. Even when he doesn't want to he just has to keep going. This family is going through tons and it's really nice and refreshing to read a book about a kid who isn't really smart, or talented, or even special. He's just a kid. Except McGovern does a wonderful job of showing what this average kid has inside of him that makes him special after all - and I think that will have great value for many children.
Oct 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"My mom has a theory that when bad things happen [to you], you should think about someone else's problems and try to help them." That's how Benny, our narrator, opens up this book, Just My Luck. This is a story about the struggles that Benny's family has while he is in 4th grade. Benny has an autistic brother, George, and just before Benny starts the 4th grade with who he knows is going to be his very favorite teacher, Benny's dad suffers a medical trauma that will change him and the family dyna ...more
Kelly Hager
Dec 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is the perfect example of why I love middlegrade novels so much. I feel like they're tackling all these really hard issues but doing it in a way where they're accessible to children. (Because it's not just teenagers and adults that horrible things happen to.) I can't even imagine the skillset that takes, where you explain these things in a way where it's not too overwhelming for kids. Anyway, Cammie McGovern does it and makes it seem effortless.

I love Benny and his incredibly kind hea
Sep 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Highly reminiscent of Lisa Graff's outstanding Absolutely Almost, Just My Luck is the story of a young for his age fourth grade boy wrestling with the guilt and worry he feels surrounding his father's aneurysm. Benny struggles in just about every area of his life; he is not academically gifted, has no significant friendships, and, most of all, is terrified of riding his bike. But Benny possess a tender heart and a remarkable gift for communicating with his older autistic brother. Told with both ...more
Review by Nancy, intended for young readers:

Fourth grade can be tough. For Benny Barrows, the main character of Just My Luck by Cammie McGovern, fourth grade seems like the most unlucky year ever. Benny doesn’t have an alien invasion or time-traveling pirate ninjas or ancient Greek prophecies to worry about. He has real life.

Things that weigh on Benny’s mind:

- His father, who is recovering from a brain aneurism.
- That despite everyone telling Benny the aneurism wasn’t his fault, that it was actu
Jeff Raymond
Of the many trends in middle grade and YA fiction right now, autism and stories about family struggles are leading the way. Just My Luck is one of the better ones that covers these trends, and deserves a lot of attention.

This is mostly about Benny, who finds a new best friend but also has to deal with his autistic brother and his father's sickness. It's a balancing act, and one that might not always be working in Benny's favor.

It's a simple book that excels because of the simplicity and humor in
Monty Mcgovern
Oct 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Cammie McGovern has done it again with this book. This time she aims at a younger audience than her previous YA novels, and accordingly she uses a simpler structure, using only one narrator. Nevertheless there is a wide variety of characters and a poignant exploration of living with people with disabilities. Unusually for this genre, the narrator is a boy, and the other main disabled characters are male as well. The narrator does a good bit of growing up in the book and has memorable interaction ...more
Sep 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
It was brilliant! Cammie writes beautifully about what it is like to have a child on the Autism Spectrum.
Tammi Drevers
May 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kids, 2016
I loved this book. I also loved the members of the family as individuals but as a whole more. This book made me laugh and made me cry. A must read if you like Wonder.
Dec 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
To end 2018, I wanted to read as many contemporary books as possible. I've been in the mood to read a lot of contemporary lately. I think it's because they are usually standalones that I can rad in less than a day. Also, every now and then I just need some cuteness in my life. While it wasn't exactly what I expected, I really enjoyed Just My Luck.

Just My Luck isn't one of those books that I would normally go out of my way to pick up, but I'm so glad I did. I thought it was a powerful, and yet s
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore.
-- Naomi Shihab Nye
This book made me cry and laugh. It is really an enjoyable read. I really like how the author writes about autism in such a bright and positive way. It is a beautiful story of a family getting t
Sep 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Huge thank you to Harper Collins Canada for this ARC!

Cammie McGovern seems to have become an auto-read author for me as of late. There's something about her novels where I find myself really connecting to her characters and their personal situations. Being that this was her first middle grade novel, I was a bit worried about how this was going to shake up. Turns out, it was fantastic ride that made me shed a few tears!

Benny is a delightful main character, and his voice is so delightful and genui
My favorite book of the year so far! I loved this book from cover to cover and read chunks of it out loud to Robbie.

Nine year old Benny, the youngest member of his family narrates a deceptively complex story. He is a decent kid- he has been raised to think of others by lesson and example. Loosely quoted his mom counsels- If you are struggling with a problem look around for some who could use a hand.

The story starts with the beginning of the school year, clearly Benny is processing guilt over a m
Kate Puleo Unger
Oct 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! I was a little hesitant to read it because middle grade doesn't always work for me, but I couldn't pass up a Cammie McGovern book. I love her writing so much, and this book did not disappoint.

Benny is in 4th grade, and his best friend moved away at the end of last year. He is struggling to find new friends. He is also struggling at home. He feels responsible for his father's accident over the summer that has left his brain more than a bit muddled. His family is dealing fairly
Kate Hastings
Grades 4-8. Benny has an accident while bike riding that causes his dad to fall and hit his head. Hours later he collapses from what doctors say is an unrelated aneurism. His dad recovers quickly but struggles socially. He reminds the family of George, their son with autism. How unlucky can one family be to have the misfortune of two dysfunctional family members? Sometimes the burden seems too much. But friends are found in unexpected places. And like the book says, you have to make your own hap ...more
Abby Fennelly
Dec 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed Just My Luck! I had previously read Cammie McGovern's Say What You Will, and though the stories have a similar baseline, I don't think that they can be compared to each other. I am very glad I didn't form my opinion of Just My Luck based on Say What You Will, because I do not think I would have liked it as much as I did. Benny is a prime example of what it feels like to be the sibling of a child with a disability, especially being the sibling that knows best how to respond to th ...more
Scott Fillner
Apr 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Loved the voice and characters in this novel. I also enjoyed the subtle messages about growth mindset, practice and intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation. Being a teacher who believes in PBIS, done with the right mindset, I enjoyed pausing to reflect about my feelings towards acknowledgement. I believe in we don't do ______ to get _____, and education should be a collaborative effort over competition. Both of these mindsets showed up for me, or at least really got me thinking about its power. I loo ...more
May 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside, you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.

A book on kindness, autism, family and friendship.
Even though it’s a middle grade book, I enjoyed it quite alot.
I cried a little reading that little poem Mr. Norris wrote to Benny.
And I really like how the author approaches the autism issue in such a bright and positive way.
I'm so in love with this book! 🐾🐾

Mar 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
McGoven could write a menu and I would read it and love it. She writes so well with heart about children with different abilities in her books and this book explodes with emotion. It reminded me of a combo of Courage For Beginners/Umbrella Summer/ touching, almost achingly so. Lovely.
Marta Lowe
Apr 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is how a bad day can really turn into a good day Benny reminds me of me and that's why an enjoy this book an why others should read it to! This is a book for 8-11 years olds that shows true compassion and they will want to read more books like this my guarantee.
May 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Not too proud to read a book for 4th graders! I think this author delivers a good message for YA. This is her first book for elementary age and I think she nailed it.
Aug 21, 2017 rated it liked it
I feel like I have read better versions of this book.
Amy-Jo Conant
Feb 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
DRA 40
Lexile - 810
AR 4.9
Listened to Audio: Very good audio with lots of different voices used. I've heard this speaker before in many other books I have listened to.

Topics/Themes: autism, brain damage, brothers, friendship and how to find it

I feel like I say this all the time, but this is ANOTHER heavy book. The main character is a 4th-grade boy wrestling with a lot of questions in his life. Ten year old Benny is incredibly thoughtful and introspective. He looks inside himself and questio
Aug 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this novel. It was a story with characters that you could relate to and a story which stole your heart. Benny is starting fourth grade and he’s was happy because he heard wonderful things about Mr. Norris, his teacher. Mr. Norris was fun and exciting and Benny needed that as he was starting the year off without a best friend. Kenneth had moved away and he needed to find a replacement. Benny situation at home was different than his peers. His brother was autistic and his father h ...more
Rachel Reeves
Feb 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
Thank you to Edelweiss and the publisher for providing a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.

It pains me a bit to give this 4 stars instead of 5 because it really was a wonderful book. I wish Goodreads had half-stars, but don't we all. The issue was the ending and it was enough of an issue to knock down the rating, unfortunately. I am curious to see if the final version for publication may have ended up with any changes to it. The ending is very abrupt and feels unfinished, as if pages
Erik This Kid Reviews Books
Oct 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Synopsis- Benny still blames himself, even though everyone keeps saying that it isn’t his fault. His dad was jogging next to him while he was biking, and Benny’s helmet crashed into his father’s head. Now his father has internal bleeding in his brain, and may never be the same again. Pair that with the fact Benny’s best friend moved away, his autistic brother is a WAY better bike rider than him, fourth grade is not that great and Benny’s family is barely hanging in there. Somehow Benny keeps goi ...more
Bridget Neace
Apr 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Benny's having a hard time in fourth grade. He's not that great at academics...or riding a bike...or making friends...or pretty much anything--well, except making movies with his Lego figurines. His family already had a lot on their plate, dealing with Benny's autistic older brother, George (who, despite not being able to tie his shoes, can do tricks on HIS bike...). But now, things have gotten worse: no one is noticing his good deeds for his school's C.A.R.E. (Cooperation Accountability Respect ...more
Susan  Dunn
May 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: j-fiction
Benny's 4th grade year isn't going well at all. His best friend moved away and he hasn't found anyone to take his place yet. He's in the slow groups at school for math and reading and he still isn't good at riding a bike, which is made even worse by the fact that his brother George, who is autistic - can ride way better than Benny - and even do tricks. His school has started a contest whereby whenever teachers notice a student doing something that shows empathy or caring they will write down the ...more
Jan 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
4.5 Stars.

I loved Cammie McGovern's new Middle Grade novel...and I really, really loved Benny Barrows, the wonderful protagonist she created.

Benny begins fourth grade feeling less-than-great about himself for a few reasons. His best friend has moved away and he's not sure exactly where he fits in on his class' social hierarchy. His dad has recently been hospitalized because of a brain aneurysm (which poor Benny thinks is HIS fault). And he has yet to make any progress in the "empathy contest" th
Mel (Daily Prophecy)

George has an autistic little brother and his father suffered from a brain haemorrhage. We see life through his eyes and how he gets through every day. At school they are rewarded with hand prints when they do something good, but no matter how hard George tries nobody seems to notice him. That’s what he thinks, though, because one of the teachers and he have something in common.

I was let down by the story. It fell flat in comparison with her previous work.
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Cammie McGovern was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford and received the Nelson Algren Award in short fiction. Her work has been published in Redbook, Seventeen, Glimmer Train, TriQuarterly, and other publications.

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