Want personalized picks that fit your family?

Set preferences to see our top age-appropriate picks for your kids.

Get age-based picks

The Year My Sister Got Lucky

Book review by
Stephanie Dunnewind, Common Sense Media
The Year My Sister Got Lucky Book Poster Image
A standard plot strengthened by sisterly bonds.

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 8 reviews

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Some of the ballet dancers are so thin that when they walk by, mothers whisper, "eating disorder." A teacher makes inappropriate comments to students. Katie's parents keep secrets from her, and Michaela lies to her parents. Katie snoops through her sister's IM log.


Michaela (17) has sex with her boyfriend using birth control -- not explicitly described. A friend sends her an email: "Congratulations on no longer being a virgin." Katie asks how sex feels and Michaela says, "Kind of weird and scary at first, but then better. It can be special, if you make good decisions." She also offers to educate Katie about condoms: "If I'm not going to give it to you straight, who will?"


Very mild: "pissed off," "bitch."


Many mentions of brand names in fashion, food, perfume, stores, coffee and drink shops, Web sites, electronics, and magazines.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Michaela jokes about spiking hot chocolate with whiskey; before she realizes her sister is kidding, Katie is thrilled by the forbidden but worried about their parents finding out. Michaela starts smoking cigarettes because her friends do; this is presented as rebellious because dancers shouldn't smoke. Their ballet instructor smokes and says "but I'm old."

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this book features a rather old-fashioned plot, with teen sex serving as a "shocking" secret; smoking is portrayed as a rebellious act. Despite the suggestive title, the sex is pretty tame; Nothing is explicit, they're in a committed relationship, and they use birth control.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bypurplechick May 11, 2010

life lessons

I like it because it gives kids a life lesson its a little iffy
Parent of a 14 year old Written byloveme4me April 10, 2011

Hate It

This book isnt appropriate for a 14 year old more like 17/18 + kids should not be reading about sex and drugs !!!
Teen, 14 years old Written byMiranda B. May 21, 2010

Good for girls with sisters just a few years younger than themselves.

Michaela has sex with her boyfriend, and Katie later finds out after reading her sister's email. There are very mild uses of cussing, but otherwise it shou... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byxchocolate3 March 31, 2011

What's the story?

Katie, 14, and her 17-year-old sister Michaela thrive in the fast pace of New York City, where they attend a prestigious ballet school. Then their mom's new job requires a sudden move to a rural town. This leaves fashion-plate Katie warily facing a dragonfly (she attempts to annihilate it with bug spray), a deer in her front yard, and a cute boy in her homeroom class. Michaela, in contrast, embraces their new surroundings, befriending the popular crowd and dating the school's hot quarterback. Katie, accustomed to sharing everything with her big sis, feels left out and homesick -- especially when she discovers Michaela is hiding some major secrets.

Is it any good?

Readers who prefer the mall to a park may find Katie's small-town travails humorous (she is horrified by the very idea of camping) but for many, her whining will grow tedious. Indeed, a friend tells her, "Your princess act does get a little old after a while." (In a genuine moment, Katie spits back, "It's not an act. This is how I am . . . I don't wear flannel.")

When Katie (the first-person narrator) stops complaining long enough to actually do something, the book zips along more pleasantly. The plot is standard-issue (a teen asserts her independence, a fish out of water realizes her new home isn't so bad after all, a little sister discovers the big sister she worships isn't perfect), but the sisterly bond is appealing. Michaela offers advice and big-sister sighs as she strives to create her own life, setting boundaries for both her nosy sister and their controlling mother.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why Katie and Michaela's family keeps so many secrets. Katie's parents withhold important information from her, supposedly so she won't get upset. How do all these lies and secrets affect their relationships? Families can also discuss how and why a passion (such as Michaela's dancing, or other sports or hobbies) can stop being fun, and what parents can do to help teens feel less pressured.

Book details

Top advice and articles

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate