Lucky for Good

Book review by
Patricia Tauzer, Common Sense Media
Lucky for Good Book Poster Image
Third book in offbeat series explores the meaning of family.

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Lucky's "what ifs" definitely will inspire discussions on genealogy, family history, evolution, religion, racism, and life after death as well as sculpture, art, Charles Darwin, physics, and science in general.

Positive Messages

The whole community of Hard Pan works together in inventive ways. Though the residents' lives may be judged by some to be less than successful, they show that true family can mean something far wider than biological relationship. Also, in this book, even kids have the right to their own opinions and beliefs.

Positive Role Models & Representations

While the characters in this book make up an unusual cast, they are all down-to-earth real and make up a good-hearted community that is more like family. Lucky, herself, is loyal, thoughtful, and inventive, and has the kind of critical thinking skills that make her want to explore the world like a true scientist. She has a strong sense of what is right, explores her feelings, is tolerant of others, and accepts people with all their weaknesses.


In a fight at the school bus stop, Lucky socks an older kid in the jaw for disparaging her adoptive mother. Her friend jumps in to help and sprains his arm. At another point, a young boy and a donkey are nearly run over by a runaway machine, and other kids are scraped and bruised trying to help them.


One tender kiss sparks the idea in Lucky's mind that Lincoln may be more than just a best friend.


One kid engages in a bit of name-calling that borders on racism against immigrants who rob "real Americans" of their jobs, and that is dealt with in the book. Otherwise, using words like "creepo" and "trailer trash" is about the worst of the language.


Only products mentioned are Bud Light, Ziploc bags, and Juicy Fruit gum.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

There is mention of Alcoholics Anonymous group meetings as well as meetings for other recovering addicts (smoking, drugs). Also, one character drinks Bud Light and works in exchange for a six-pack.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this book is the third in a trilogy that began with the Newbery Award winner The Higher Power of Lucky.  Each book can be read separately, but the whole story would make more sense if read in order. Lucky is a thoughtful character and this book includes discussions of evolution, Darwin vs. the Bible, life after death, heaven and hell, and other issues that make kids worry. Characters struggle with prejudice, addiction, and more, but there is a sweet message about the true meaning of family -- and how it can be about something far wider than biological relationship.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byAnnie B. November 16, 2011


Lucky is a spunky girl who touches your heart. I wish the CSM reviewer treated her fairly. She grows from the first book to the third, which is the point. It... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byFish22 March 12, 2012

Must read book!!

Even though its true that a "tender kiss" happens, who said that's not life? You can make it seem like a bad thing, but its not. Its just what ha... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byterribaby046 November 20, 2011

Good Book

this was a very good book

What's the story?

Lucky's life in the impoverished desert community of Hard Pan is not an easy one, and when the health department threatens to close down her adopted mother's restaurant, the challenges only increase. She is grappling with other big issues, too, like how she feels about her missing father, how best to confront the prejudice against her immigrant stepmom, and what to do when her dinosaur-loving friend is reunited with his mother, a recovering addict who wants him to read only the Bible. With the support of some very quirky characters she tries to put life in perspective, for herself and those she loves.

Is it any good?

This third book in the series is sometimes uneven and a bit disjointed, but the story is packed with humor, heartwarming episodes, and well-drawn characters. Readers will find it easy to care about spunky Lucky, a girl with a heart as big as the desert sky and a mind full of "what ifs." The characters are eccentric -- Lincoln is a knot-tying expert, and Lucky herself investigates anything she encounters, from owl pellets to the ancient Viking alphabet -- but kids will appreciate the topics she and her friends talk about, and the way they care for one another. Lucky and her crazy community make it a lot of fun to think about important issues, such as the meaning of life -- and family. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about this series. How does this third book compare to the other Lucky books? Why do you think the author wanted to write more about Lucky's story? Do you think the publisher would have been as interested in publishing them if the first book, The Higher Power of Lucky, hadn't won the Newbery Award?

  • There are a lot "what ifs" swirling around Lucky's brain, from what if her adoptive mother dies to what if she is going to hell? Do you think some of these worries are things that all kids think about? Parents may want to use this as an opportunity to address some of the things their kids may be worrying about.

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love coming-of-age stuff

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