This Young Adult novel opens with the line, “Mama died hard, you should know that.” We hear the gritty voice of Melia, the oldest daughter who, at fourteen, is now tasked with keeping her younger brother and sister together. They have no other family, and they do not want to be separated in foster care. The children have a deep loyalty to one another. They each use their unique gifts to better their family as a whole.
Melia has many monumental tasks before her in this Depression era novel. To keep herself and her siblings out of foster care, she schemes up a plan involving a hobo pretending to be her father who has miraculously returned. Melia is also charged with keeping the family business, a gas station, out of the evil clutches of the local gas franchise owner. In addition to this, she works to put food on the table and keep her siblings in school.
The reader is rooting for Melia to succeed despite the odds she faces. This story delves into the realities of poverty, gender and power. The imbalance and ugliness of power over another comes to a climax in an intense scene near the book’s end.
Lucky Strikes show us the guts and grit that can be necessary to make it through life’s challenges. This 2018 DCF book is also available at our library.