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The Lucky Kind

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Overview

High school junior Nick Brandt is intent on getting a girlfriend, and Eden Reiss is the one that he wants. He has exactly four semesters to get the girl, but when the phone rings on an otherwise ordinary Tuesday night, life for Nick and his parents will never be the same. What had been a seemingly idyllic home life has become something else entirely. But with this shake-up comes a newfound confidence for Nick; he's become a bolder version of himself, no longer afraid to question...
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The Lucky Kind

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Overview

High school junior Nick Brandt is intent on getting a girlfriend, and Eden Reiss is the one that he wants. He has exactly four semesters to get the girl, but when the phone rings on an otherwise ordinary Tuesday night, life for Nick and his parents will never be the same. What had been a seemingly idyllic home life has become something else entirely. But with this shake-up comes a newfound confidence for Nick; he's become a bolder version of himself, no longer afraid to question his parents, and no longer afraid to talk to Eden.

Alyssa B. Sheinmel has written a powerfully gripping story about family secrets, falling in love, and finding luck in unexpected--and sometimes unwelcome—circumstances.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Lauri Berkenkamp
Nick Brandt is a high school junior who is lucky: he has a good relationship with his parents, he has good friends, and he just might actually go out with the girl he has had a crush on forever. But all that changes when his father gets a mysterious phone call one evening, and Nick learns that he is not his father's only son: Nick's dad fathered another son almost thirty years before, who now is getting married and wants to get to know the father he had never met. Nick feels betrayed by his parents for keeping secrets from him, misunderstood by his friends who do not see why the secret is such a big deal to Nick, and alienated from his new girlfriend, to whom he has just lost his virginity. Nick feels luckless and alone, and has a difficult time grappling with this new interpretation of his family. It is only when Nick actually meets his half brother, Sam, that he begins to understand that life and luck are not black and white, and the reality of family, loyalty, and love are more complicated—and rewarding—than he knew. This coming of age story offers a unique perspective on how the relationship between teens and their parents changes over the course of adolescence, particularly when children realize that their parents are only human. It is a realistic presentation of the way changing family dynamics affect friendships, as well, and Nick is a very sympathetic hero as he grapples with not only his own changing family, but a new relationship and changing friendship, as well. Recommended for high school and up. Reviewer: Lauri Berkenkamp
Kirkus Reviews

Unexpected relatives complicate a teen's life.

In his junior year at a private school in Manhattan, Nick's biggest concern is finally getting the attention of Eden, a girl he's known since kindergarten. Nick's ordinary, stable home life is upended when his father gets a phone call from a stranger named Sam. After a tension-filled weekend, Nick's father reveals that Sam is the son he and his girlfriend gave up for adoption 30 years ago. Nick feels betrayed by the enormity of the secret that his parents have kept, and his anger at them threatens to taint his new relationship with Eden. He can't separate his emotions about his family from his feelings for Eden and abruptly breaks up with her after sleeping together. His best friend Stevie tries to point out that he's probably afraid of making the same mistake his father made. It's not until Nick meets Sam and learns the details of his non-Jewish father's early life in small-town Ohio that he can come to grips with his family's new reality. Nick is lucky in his choice of girlfriend—Eden patiently waits for him to sort things out.

Sheinmel effectively uses a breezy, often humorous first-person voice that's deceptively slight in its handling of deep issues, even as Nick does the hard emotional work to pull himself out of the depths of his self-pity. (Fiction. 12 & up)

From the Publisher

"Sheinmel takes her family story into some genuinely fresh and interesting territory, resisting soap-operatic details of scandal and home-wreckage...The well-crafted family story offers an excellent stage for depicting the challenge facing every young adult - how to accept human responsibility and frailty as we go through life." - The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"The Lucky Kind is an honest, powerful and emotional look at family secrets and falling in love." - Justine

"The first-person narration is honest and compelling, and the book's thoughtful nature will appeal to readers who like more introspective realistic fiction." - School Library Journal

"The storyline urges readers to think not only about adoption and the role of family, but about how they themselves relate to those around them, urging them, ultimately, to practice compassion." -  The Atlanta Young Adult Literature Examiner

"Sheinmel effectively uses a breezy, often humorous first-person voice that's deceptively slight in its handling of deep issues, even as Nick does the hard emotional work to pull himself out of the depths of his self-pity." - Kirkus Reviews

"Teen readers will be touched by the unexpected friendship and change of heart that will help him [Nick] put his life back together again." - Bookpage.com

"A charming, entertaining read." - The Tennessee Herald Citizen

"Any readers who enjoy passionate, teenage romantic dramas should revel in The Lucky Kind." - TeenReads.com

"A good story about first loves and family, this is a book both teenage boys and girls will relate to." - Parkersburg News and Sentinel

"Alyssa Sheinmel's The Lucky Kind is a charming story about teenage love." - Angela Johnson, Cleveland Plain-Dealer

From the Hardcover edition.

School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Life has been good to high school junior Nick Brandt, the only child of happily married parents, and winning the heart of the girl of his dreams, Eden Reiss, only makes things sweeter. But then Nick receives some surprising news: he's not really an only child. His dad had a baby with his high school sweetheart, and the child was given up for adoption. Now an adult, Sam Roth reenters his biological father's life and, in doing so, disrupts Nick's. He's angry at Dad for keeping this secret and confused about how this knowledge will affect his relationship with Eden as it weighs heavily on his mind as they have their first sexual experience. Sheinmel deftly navigates the subtle complexities of her protagonist's concerns, especially the way he withdraws from Eden. There's a tenderness in their relationship, as well as in his friendship with his best buddy, Stevie, that is reminiscent of Steve Kluger's My Most Excellent Year (Dial, 2008). Teens will relate to Nick even though he exaggerates the severity of his situation; his parents have accepted the past just fine and Sam's entrance doesn't cause any drama outside of that which Nick has read into it. The first-person narration is honest and compelling, and the book's thoughtful nature will appeal to readers who like more introspective realistic fiction.—Jennifer Barnes, Malden Public Library, MA
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Life has been good to high school junior Nick Brandt, the only child of happily married parents, and winning the heart of the girl of his dreams, Eden Reiss, only makes things sweeter. But then Nick receives some surprising news: he's not really an only child. His dad had a baby with his high school sweetheart, and the child was given up for adoption. Now an adult, Sam Roth reenters his biological father's life and, in doing so, disrupts Nick's. He's angry at Dad for keeping this secret and confused about how this knowledge will affect his relationship with Eden as it weighs heavily on his mind as they have their first sexual experience. Sheinmel deftly navigates the subtle complexities of her protagonist's concerns, especially the way he withdraws from Eden. There's a tenderness in their relationship, as well as in his friendship with his best buddy, Stevie, that is reminiscent of Steve Kluger's My Most Excellent Year (Dial, 2008). Teens will relate to Nick even though he exaggerates the severity of his situation; his parents have accepted the past just fine and Sam's entrance doesn't cause any drama outside of that which Nick has read into it. The first-person narration is honest and compelling, and the book's thoughtful nature will appeal to readers who like more introspective realistic fiction.—Jennifer Barnes, Malden Public Library, MA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375867859
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 5/10/2011
  • Pages: 208
  • Age range: 12 years
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

ALYSSA B. SHEINMEL is the author of The Beautiful Between. She works in publishing and lives in New York City.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Read an Excerpt

Phone Calls and Other Life-Altering Events

It's 7:42 on a Tuesday when the phone rings. I only notice the time because I'm watching Wheel of Fortune, which is so boring that I think I might be better entertained if I turned off the TV and stared at the blank screen. I wonder when Vanna White began looking like somebody's mom. I distinctly remember thinking she was hot when I was younger. My parents are out and I'm sunk into the living room sofa, but the phone is within my arm's reach. I grab the remote and hit the mute button.

"Hello?"

"Eh-hem."

"Hello?"

"Is Sheffman Brandt in?"

It takes me a second to realize he's talking about my dad. Sheffman is his real first name, but no one calls him that. He usually goes by Robert or Rob or Bobby, for his middle name. Sheffman is his mother's maiden name. It must be a telemarketer or someone who got his name off a list.

"No, I'm sorry, he's not home. Can I take a message?"

There's silence on the other end. I think I hear the man say "Umm," like he's really thinking about whether or not to leave a message.

"Hello?" I say, mildly irritated.

"No. I'm sorry. No. Sorry. No, thank you." His voice sounds more certain that "No" is the right answer each time he says it. Then he hangs up, so I do, too. I'm asleep before my parents get home.

In the morning, the sound of my mother and Pilot coming back from their walk wakes me up. Pilot is our dog, but my parents act like he's my little brother.

My father is sitting in the living room at his computer. His desk is in the back of the room, behind the sofa, so that he can watch TV while he works.

"Morning, Nicky," he says, looking up from his cereal. Even though he's fifty years old, my dad has a big sweet tooth; he puts three or four spoonfuls of sugar into his Grape-Nuts every morning. Mom says he's going to get adult-onset diabetes. Dad works from home half the time, and he's sitting in his pajama bottoms with his cereal, so it doesn't look like he's going in today. Before I was born, he started a company called Fetch Capital, and my mother quit her job to help him run it.

"Hey, Dad." My hair is still wet from the shower, and my shirt is clinging to my chest because I was still wet when I put it on. But it's only September, school's only just started, and it's still hot out. It'll feel good once I get outside.

My mother and Pilot are on the couch, watching the five-day forecast, which is pretty much my mother's favorite show.

"Stevie coming over this morning?" she asks as I walk toward the kitchen.

I shake my head. "I'll meet him downstairs." Stevie and I have been walking to school together since we were ten.

"His parents were at the fund-raiser last night. They won the big prize in the silent auction."

"What they win?" I ask as I pour myself cereal.

"Some trip. They always bid on the trips, those two.

Stevie's parents love to travel. When we were little, Stevie slept over every time his parents left town.

"Bring a sweater to school with you, Nick," Mom says, kissing my head before she leaves the room. "I know you think it's still summer, but it's getting cold already and your hair is still wet." I roll my eyes at Dad but he says, "Sweater, Nicky," like he agrees with Mom that I'm not old enough to know whether I'm hot or cold.

Girls in School Uniforms

"Why the fuck is everyone in such a hurry to get into that building?" Stevie asks. We're standing on the corner across the street from school, leaning against the windows of the pizza place. Stevie hates school this year. His parents are making him see a tutor after school because colleges pay such close attention to junior year on your transcripts. It wouldn't be so bad if Stevie didn't already get straight As. They seem to think, since he never studies, that something must be wrong. But Stevie's just that smart. You'd hate him if he weren't so cool about it. Sometimes when we have two choices for an essay, he'll write both of them, choose the one he likes better, and give me the other one to hand in.

I'm pretty sure that Francis is the only coed high school in New York with school uniforms. Boys have to wear shirts and ties, and right now Stevie and I are sweating under our long sleeves. Whoever came up with this outfit was not thinking about the weather in Manhattan, which stays hot through September and gets hot again in May, so that the boys have to sweat out two months every year.

But not the girls. The girls wear gray kilts and button-downs, although they call them blouses, and they always roll their kilts at the waist to make them shorter. Sometimes they wear boxers underneath their kilts, and the skirts are rolled so short that you can see the boxers peeking out at the hems.

Eden Reiss is walking toward Stevie and me, and her kilt is just above her knees; she never rolls her skirt to make it shorter. Her button-down is loose enough that the buttons don't pull at her chest, but you can see the polka dots on her bra underneath her white shirt.

"Check out Eden's bra," Stevie whispers.

"Yeah, I see it." I don't exactly need it pointed out to me, and Stevie knows it. But I'm trying not to look because she'll see me staring. Eden Reiss has been at Francis since kindergarten, too, just like Stevie and me. Just her name is enough to make her cool, like her parents wanted something biblical, but rather than settle on Eve they went straight to the heart of the matter by naming her Eden.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 7, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A heartfelt story

    Nick Brandt is your normal, everyday teenager. The only thing that's 'odd' about this particular high school junior living in New York City, is the fact that he's lucky. He is the owner of two parents who are truly in love and love him; his home is a happy one; and, he has a best friend who's actually a good, honest friend who has been a part of his life since they were little boys. School isn't so bad, either. Nick has good grades and doesn't really worry much about his love life. But the one thing that he has been missing is the strength and bravery to ask out Eden Reiss. Eden is also a normal, nice teenager girl, and extremely intelligent. She, unfortunately, doesn't have all the positives in her life that Nick enjoys, Although she has a non-violent home - with no drugs or hideous beings to negatively effect her life - Eden's parents are getting ready to divorce. And Eden has a tendency to be a little jealous of people like Nick Brandt whose parents actually sat at their school, holding hands, on parent's day. Soon, however, Nick and Eden become a couple.and just in time. Why? Because like many people who have taken a "happy, normal" life for granted, Nick doesn't know what hits him when there is actual adversity thrown into the mix. Nick's Dad reveals a secret. He, a long time ago, fathered a son with his first girlfriend and they ended up giving the boy up for adoption. It was a point in Nick's father's life where he wasn't able to raise a son. Now, phone calls are coming into the house from a young man named Sam.who turns out to be Nick's half-sibling. Nick gets more than angry when he learns that his father kept such a large secret from him all these years; he feels as if his own opinion in his family is no longer warranted. And even though his mother has accepted the fact that his father wants to "meet" the boy he gave up long ago - Nick is not accepting of it. It feels like he has sibling rivalry all of a sudden for a man he's never even met. Nick does a great deal of talking with his beloved girlfriend, Eden about the situation. He needs someone to understand what he's going through, and Eden tries her absolute best to put up with Nick's infantile behavior. When Nick and Sam come face to face, a new relationship is born, and the in-depth emotions run high. Can Nick find a way to forgive his father and accept the 'newest' member of his family? Can he struggle through his emotions and not blow his relationship with the girl of his dreams? Although the author does a lovely job of answering those questions, the actual 'plot' reminded this writer of an amazing woman who took on the hardest teenage subjects and offered upset, confused, and frightened teens a way to deal with every emotional problem they could have. The famed author, Judy Blume, is still remembered as the absolute "best" voice for speaking about the world of teenage difficulties. And, although, Ms. Sheinmel is a "new" voice in YA fiction trying to touch on various subjects that affect the teenage mind, Ms. Blume still remains the master of that particular 'craft.' Quill Says: A heartfelt story about the difficult journey from teenager to adult, with some well-taught lessons for YA readers.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 16, 2012

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    I Also Recommend:

    A beautiful, realistic story about what happens when you find th

    A beautiful, realistic story about what happens when you find the truth out about the family you think you know.

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    Posted May 21, 2012

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    Posted August 18, 2011

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