on December 29, 2020
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Romance
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FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley. All opinions are my own.
Julia Walton’s new novel, Just Our Luck, is the feel good book I really needed in my life this year. It follows Leo, a teen who has struggled with anxiety all his life. His mom died when he was younger so his Greek grandmother, Yia Yia, was the one who watched over him and provided him, not only with coping mechanisms, like knitting, to help with his anxiety, but also with two “rules for life”: 1) Bad luck follows lies, and 2) Leave the Paros family alone. When his grandmother passes away and his father is too wrapped up in his own grief to really know how to relate to Leo, Leo starts to struggle even more and manages to break both of Yia Yia’s “rules for life” in one fell swoop when a fist fight at school, followed by a fib to his father about what happened, lands Leo enrolled in a self-defense class at a gym where you guessed it, Evey Paros, of the forbidden Paros family from rule #2, works. What follows is a life-changing journey for Leo and a delightfully, heartwarming coming of age story filled with humor, friendship, love, and so much more.
It was impossible not to root for Leo every step of the way as I was reading Just Our Luck. I’m a sucker for an underdog and for a soft boy and Leo is definitely both. Leo’s passions are photography and knitting and the thought of having to even set foot in a martial arts style self defense class makes his heart race. When Evey tells him she can secretly switch him over to a hot yoga class that takes place at the same time in exchange for a favor, Leo eagerly jumps at the chance even though he can practically hear his grandmother screaming at him to “LEAVE THAT PAROS GIRL ALONE!” Even though he has no idea what he has gotten himself into, with either the hot yoga or with Evey, I loved watching Leo take this journey because he just grew so much every step of the way. There were honest and raw moments as he continues to work through his anxiety and his overall awkwardness around people, and there were also hilarious moments in the yoga classes as well as with some of his antics with Evey. I also enjoyed watching Leo and Evey grow closer and learning what the deal was with grandma’s rule about Evey’s family.
I think my favorite part of Just Our Luck though was the friendship that develops between Leo and Drake, the boy who punched Leo in the face and kicked off this whole chain of events. Leo and Drake are forced to sit in a special detention every day and they have one goal: to work through whatever issue led to the punch in the face. It’s a hard sell at first with both boys just sitting there in awkward silence day after day, but once the breakthrough finally happens, a really wonderful friendship emerges. One that left me with an even bigger smile on my face than Leo and Evey growing closer.
I could go on and on about how truly heartwarming and delightful Just Our Luck is, but just take my word for it. If you’re in the mood for a feel good story, Just Our Luck is a must read.