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The Lucky Place

The Lucky Place

by Zu Vincent

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Cassie finds her inner strength through experiencing heartbreaking events. The Lucky Place begins at a horse racetrack, where Cassie, age three, and her brother Jamie, age five, accompany their father on a drinking and betting spree. As she goes with him to make yet another bet, her hand slips out of his and she loses him. When Cassie has been delivered safely


Cassie finds her inner strength through experiencing heartbreaking events. The Lucky Place begins at a horse racetrack, where Cassie, age three, and her brother Jamie, age five, accompany their father on a drinking and betting spree. As she goes with him to make yet another bet, her hand slips out of his and she loses him. When Cassie has been delivered safely home, Cassie's mother is angry and Cassie vows never to lose Daddy again. But before long, Mama has had enough of Cassie's father. She introduces Cassie and Jamie to Ellis. Cassie's father slowly exits from her life as Ellis enters it, eventually becoming her stepfather. Her father continues to pop in and out of her life unexpectedly, while Ellis provides a stable, loving home. Just when life seems pretty wonderful, Ellis is diagnosed with cancer. He takes the family on a summer-long camping trip where he spends time with Cassie. From early childhood to early adolescence, her experiences with both fathers generate conflict and loss and help Cassie discover that her true lucky place is within herself.

Here's what I think. I think having two daddies is like riding the elephant. You don't know until you get up there what an elephant smells like, or how high you will be on the elephant's back. But then you realize. And the basket tips one way and then the other, like you might fall, every time the elephant steps. —FROM THE BOOK

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Fans of Nancy Werlin's Rules of Survival (2006) are a natural for this sad but hopeful story." --Booklist

"Moving and multilayered." --Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

* "This delicate page-turner is written in a way to subtly grab the reader by the gut. . . . The conclusion is thoughtful, satisfying, and realistic." --Library Media Connection, starred review

Children's Literature - Laura J. Brown
Three-year-old Cassie and her five-year-old brother Jamie are not prepared for how their lives change after an outing with their father, Sikes. Sikes takes them to a horse race and in the excitement of the moment leaves Cassie behind. This is the last straw for their mother and she decides she is tired of having a husband that cannot stay sober and properly support the family. Cassie and Jamie meet Ellis, who in time becomes their new daddy, and they all move to what their mother calls The Lucky Place. Cassie wants everyone in her new family to be happy but Jamie refuses to love Ellis, their stepfather. To make things even more difficult for all of them, their father Sikes, drops in and out of their lives, always causing tension and conflict. As Cassie grows older, more than anything she wants her family to be whole, and it seems like that may never happen. This is a novel about a family in conflict and transition and how important it is to love family no matter what. Reviewer: Laura J. Brown
Christian Goering
The reader follows Cassie from two to twelve years old in this tale of how family situations affect children. Cassie's alcoholic father Sikes leaves her at the horse races at a young age, which prompts her mother to divorce him. Cassie's "New Daddy," Ellis, is much more stable and caring, and eventually Cassie thinks of him as her father, much to the dismay of her brother Jamie. As the new family develops and adjusts to life in their new home for which the book is named, Ellis develops cancer and eventually dies. Cassie's mother falls apart, and the story ends as she pulls her mother together, makes peace with her "Old Daddy," and manages the family as a seventh-grader. The book is recommended for ages 12 and up, and it could be used in classrooms as a read aloud or just an engaging, personal tale of a dysfunctional functional family. Reviewer: Christian Goering
School Library Journal

Gr 6-9- Readers meet Cassie when she is three years old and her inebriated father leaves her behind at the racetrack. Her older brother Jamie is just capable of keeping up with his dad, but not able to make him realize that his sister has gotten lost. She is returned home by the police and their mother eventually realizes that this man is not a competent father. Cassie relates the story, noticing events and describing them as a young child does, requiring readers to complete the picture. Mom brings home Ellis, New Daddy, and Cassie can't help but feel his strength. Old Daddy tries to hold the children's loyalty, even as Ellis becomes increasingly the presence and support they need. Cassie's voice changes as she grows into a 12-year-old who comes to know that inside herself is the real lucky place that she can truly count on. The adults in her world have vices and character defects aplenty, but mostly they love her and do what they can to make things right. Taking place in California in the late 1950s and early '60s in one of those identical tract-home subdivisions, Vincent's novel ably creates a world that makes promises it can't keep. The sadness of life and the way children absorb the sorrows around them are convincingly conveyed. The uncertainty of Cassie's relationships with her step, whole, and half brothers, as well as with the Daddies and her mother, stays true to a child's understanding and attempts to decode events. A stunning fiction debut by an author to watch.-Carol A. Edwards, Denver Public Library

Kirkus Reviews
This complex and deeply sad novel set during the Cold War will have trouble finding an audience. Told in the first person by Cassie, it begins when she is only three, and her charming, alcoholic father accidentally leaves her behind at the races. Soon her mother leaves him and takes Cassie and her brother Jamie to a new home with a new dad, Ellis. Jamie, high-strung and deeply into dance, cannot bring himself to love "New Daddy," while Cassie internalizes all her fears into worry and sleepwalking. There's plenty for her to worry about: In addition to her "Old Daddy," her mother and aunt develop drinking problems, Ellis gets cancer and general anxiety about jobs and money swirl about. Cassie ages from three to 12 over the three sections of the novel, resulting in a less-than-believable voice in the earlier parts. The writing is clear and elegant, but the young adults who might be intrigued by its tangled darkness will probably be put off by Cassie's precocious narration. (Fiction. YA)

Product Details

Highlights Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x (d)
HL600L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Zu Vincent holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College. She is a former senior editor of the art magazine Expressions and has produced book-length nonfiction as well as short stories, a play, and numerous feature articles and photos for various newspapers and national magazines. She lives on the edge of California's Irish Wilderness.

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