The Other Side of Luck

Bloomsbury. Jul. 2021. 240p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781681196558.
Gr 3-7–In the city of Antiquitilla, two children are born. Julien is a pauper, son of a collector of herbs, berries, and flowers; his mother died during his birth. Una is a princess, daughter of the Magister Populi, rich in her mother’s love until she, too, loses her mother during the birth of her brother. Their fathers’ grief manifests very differently. Julien’s Baba becomes overprotective and set upon teaching his son the gift of collecting botanicals. Una’s father withdraws, his sorrow ending all joy in their house. Each child possesses a rare gift. Julien cannot smell but can hear the quietest of sounds, like flowers unfolding and or tree limbs and the stretching of tree limbs. Una has the gift of smell; she can sense the smell of her father’s laughter and the fragrance of sunlight, but she is desperate to hold on to the scent of her mother before it disappears. When Una’s father remarries and declares a great reward to anyone who can find the elusive Silva Flower, which he mistakenly thinks was his wife’s favorite, the two children, now 12, meet and set out to earn the reward. Their journey will be fraught with deception, danger, and heartache. But each child will grow in strength and courage and use their gifts to discover their own destiny. This imaginative, descriptive fantasy will engage fans of stories of quests, fate, and the love of family. The writing is enchanting, blending the culture, customs, and history of an imagined world with the simple tale of a father’s love. Chapters are narrated by both Julien and Una, allowing readers a glimpse into the uniqueness of each child’s gift. Exquisitely detailed writing draws readers into the sounds and smells that surround the characters, leading this story of adventure and imagination to a satisfying conclusion. Una is described as having dark skin, while Julien’s skin tone is not described.
VERDICT A wonderful addition to a fantasy collection. Perfect for students who enjoy multicultural, timeless adventure stories.

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