The Lucky Ones

The Lucky Ones

4.5 2
by Stephanie Greene

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Even if her big sister is a total pain (and pretty much living on a different planet these days) . . .

Even if her mother is at war with her father . . .

Even if the new girl, the interloper, is hopeless . . .

Even if the rules say, "Boys Only" . . .

A girl can make her own luck.


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Even if her big sister is a total pain (and pretty much living on a different planet these days) . . .

Even if her mother is at war with her father . . .

Even if the new girl, the interloper, is hopeless . . .

Even if the rules say, "Boys Only" . . .

A girl can make her own luck.


Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Set at a luxurious summer house off Long Island Sound, Greene's well-observed novel is part period piece, part coming-of-age story. The "lucky ones" are the protagonist, 12-year-old Cecile, and her siblings, who take their privileged lives for granted. But this summer Cecile begins to be less certain of herself and her family. Cecile recoils when her older sister kisses a boy the sister doesn't particularly like ("What's the big deal?" Natalie responds. "It's only practice"). She doesn't understand why her mother flirts with her childhood buddy, King, even when Natalie explains she's "giving Dad the business" for sending their older brother off to a summer job in Canada. But eventually Cecile, too, interacts with boys and buys her first party dress (and bra), and starts considering what kind of woman she will be. Despite details that place the story in the past (the sisters borrow their mother's rouge), the story is not grounded in a clear time period. While older readers will be compelled by Cecile's strong voice, the emphasis on mood may lose the target audience. Ages 10-14. (Sept.)

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School Library Journal

Gr 5-8

This thoughtful coming-of-age novel, set sometime in the past in a world of privilege, tells the story of a pivotal time in the life of 12-year-old Cecile. Her family is once again spending the summer on tiny Gull Island at her grandfather's manor-like residence, and she's looking forward to swimming and soaking up the rays with her older sister. Unfortunately, Natalie, 14, has other plans that mostly involve locking lips with William, an "Interloper" who is vacationing on the island with his family. Despite Cecile's continued protests that she will never become obsessed with boys and appearances like Natalie, she finds herself facing changes as she buys her first bra, attends a dance at the club, and longs to catch the attention of a particular young man. Cecile is a likable and sympathetic individual who wants things to go back to the way they were last year, before her parents were fighting and puberty took her sister away. Readers on the verge of crossing the line between childhood and adolescence will relate to her internal struggles. In the end, Cecile realizes that while she cannot stop herself from growing up, she can do so at her own pace and in her own way, not necessarily following in Natalie's footsteps. The well-written book introduces a memorable main character.-Robyn Zaneski, New York Public Library

Kirkus Reviews
The prevailing sensibility in this relic of a novel hearkens back to a simpler time, perhaps mid-20th century, when young girls knew the difference between a magnum of champagne and a regular old bottle, Mom wore pearls, everyone on the island went to the club and Grandfather's kindly African-American cook was named Sheba. Cecile, age 12, is critical of older sister Natalie, who at 14 and with Mom's encouragement is having her first experience in the back seat of a car. Cecile thinks it is all too absurd, until the end when she rises to her sister's defense, agreeing that it is terribly unfair for girls but not boys to be judged "fast." In the end, Cecile agrees to take tennis lessons but, ever the rebel, draws the line at golf. Cecile's proto-feminist coming-of-age takes place against a backdrop almost entirely alien to most 21st-century readers and with nary a hint of irony to balance sentences such as, "Maybe that was what made an expensive dress worth paying for: knowing you looked great in it made you feel relaxed." (Historical fiction. 10-14)

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.50(h) x 1.20(d)
750L (what's this?)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Read an Excerpt

The Lucky Ones

By Stephanie Greene
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.
Copyright © 2008

Stephanie Greene
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780061565878

Chapter One

Things would be better when they got to Gull Island. Her parents couldn't possibly stay as icy to each other as they had been since their argument about Harry a few nights ago. And Natalie would stop sulking about the party she hadn't been allowed to go to once she claimed the canopy bed in the bedroom at the end of the upstairs hall at Granddad's. No, before that, even. When they got to the bridge.

No one was ever in a bad mood on Gull Island, Cecile told herself confidently, squashed in the middle of the back seat of the Thompson's pink station wagon as it sped along the flat highway toward the eastern end of Long Island. There was a harmony among them there that didn't exist in any other place. Let her mother and father do their endless rounds of country-club dances and dinner parties and golf. The rules that governed the children's lives at home—from meals to washing to bedtime—would grow wonderfully lax. For one whole month, Cecile could go to the dock whenever she wanted, or lie on the beach, or go clamming or swimming—the whole island would be hers. She could smell the lavender soap in their bathroom in Granddad's house now, and the sheets on her bed that smelled like the fresh out-of-doors because Sheba hung them on the line in the drying yard all day.

Cecile could hardly wait to see Sheba. She wishedthey could eat in the kitchen with Sheba every night. Silly formal dining room with its silly rules. She'd help Sheba pick fresh flowers every day and make potpourri again from the petals of the roses in Granddad's garden. She wasn't going to worry about Harry, or her parents, or Natalie; she absolutely wasn't. Imagine a father being jealous of his own son, the way Natalie said their father was. Natalie seemed to hate everyone in their family these days. Cecile wasn't going to think about it.

If only the air in the car didn't feel so strained. She was going to explode into a million pieces if they didn't get there soon, and it would serve Natalie right. Horrible Natalie, who'd held herself pressed against the door for the entire ride so her skin wouldn't touch Cecile's, as if Cecile's skin was contaminated. Natalie didn't like it when anyone touched her, really, but Cecile knew she hated it most when it was her. The only times Natalie had looked at her for the entire ride was when their thighs had touched; then she shot Cecile a look of malice as she rubbed her perfect, tanned skin.

"Harry's not here, so I'm the oldest," Natalie had said, claiming a window the minute they got in the car. She'd refused to move, forcing Cecile to crawl over her without arguing. In the Thompson family pecking order, the oldest always got the window.

Jack got the other window even though he was the second youngest; he got carsick and needed air. A few years ago, when they'd been on their way home from church, Jack had announced he was going to be sick.

"You'll be fine as soon as we get home," their mother had said firmly, as if her voice could make even Jack's stomach behave. Jack promptly threw up. It splattered Natalie's dress and Cecile's shoes.

No one had disputed his right to a window seat ever since, which meant that for the past three hours, Cecile had been stuck in the middle with Lucy. As usual, she would have said, if anyone had been willing to listen. When the children abruptly rocked and swayed for about the hundredth time as Mr. Thompson swerved to pass the car ahead of theirs, Cecile longed to rest her head against the glass the way Natalie was doing.

Really, it wasn't fair. Ever since Natalie had turned fourteen, she'd been all pins and needles; Cecile was her favorite pincushion. It had hurt her feelings terribly at first. The day last winter when Natalie had stormed into Cecile's room without notice and knocked everything off her dresser with one sweep of a furious arm, Cecile had run in tears to her mother.

It wasn't because of her, Cecile's mother explained, or even anything Cecile had done, really. It was because Cecile and Natalie were too close in age. "You're nipping at her heels" was how her mother put it, but, "She nips at mine, too," Cecile sniffed.

"It's not the same. You're not in as big a rush as Natalie."

"Where's she rushing to?" Cecile asked.

"That's exactly what I mean."

It added insult to injury, to have her mother sound so amused. It did nothing to soothe Cecile's hurt feelings, either, to be patted on the head as if she were a puppy and to have her mother put an end to the conversation by saying, "I count on you to be in a good mood."

Cecile had had to take what consolation she could from knowing her mother counted on her. But it was hard work being in a good mood all the time, especially when Natalie never even tried. The worse Natalie acted, the more she got away with. Maybe she wouldn't bother trying to be so good from now on, Cecile thought mutinously as she attempted to stretch her long legs in the limited space in front of her. It looked a lot easier to be bad.

When Mr. Thompson swerved right again, Natalie turned to her and said, "Your skin touched mine," and pulled her thigh away from Cecile's with both hands.

"I can't help it," Cecile said. "I don't have any room."

"You disgust me," said Natalie.

"You disgust me, too."

Quick and cool as a cat, Natalie reached out and scratched her. Cecile covered the two angry red lines that sprang up on her thigh and cried, "Mom! Natalie scratched me!"

"Knock it off," her father said testily, eyes straight ahead. She could have been bleeding to death, for all he cared.


Excerpted from The Lucky Ones by Stephanie Greene
Copyright © 2008 by Stephanie Greene. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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