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Was a sweet story with a predictable ending. It grew tiresome listening to one of the main characters moan and groan their way through the story but the point of the story was a good one nonetheless. Was not a challenging read but timely in it's eclectic family members and associated trials and tribulations of a big family.
4.0 out of 5 starsUnique, Inviting Read Sure to Spur Discussions
Reviewed in the United States on 18 April 2017
The massive, ethnically diverse assembled family call themselves “The Lotterys” thanks to a winning lottery ticket that makes their eccentric, socially conscious lifestyle possible.
To call these family members quirky would be a vast understatement and occasionally this did feel if it was trying too hard, but mostly the family, and their progressive thoughtful viewpoints — emphasizing kindness and compassion for all — are sold with humor. AND that compassion extends to the less enlightened biological grandparent who, suffering from dementia, the Lotterys’ take in, despite his lifetime of scorn.
I liked that all the characters were treated with genuine care by the author, including the grandfather, who could have been a caricature.
The story was “a little weird” according to my 10-year-old, but discussing it with him afterwards, I was impressed by how many of the story’s nuances he did indeed seem to grasp.
A unique, inviting read that’s fun and funny, but also has some real life lessons contained within.
I love Emma Donoghe's work and was really excited to read her foray into middle grade fiction. The Lotterys Plus One is an ambitious book with a goal of examining diversity and inclusion within the idea of a 'family'. This is no traditional family with a mother and father heading it. It isn't even the new idea of a family with two parents of the same gender. Donoghue presents us with 4 parents - 2 men in a committed relationship and 2 women in another. Both couples live together in a massive house purchased from the winnings of a lottery and fill the home with adopted children and their pets. Wonderfully hip, open and environmentally aware, the family has strains of Captain Fantastic and Moonlight Kingdom. As a description of a homeschooling commune, stereotypes abound. However, as a homeschooler myself, I did find a lot of truth in how the parents were choosing to raise their kids, refusing to bow to gender stereotypes, living with an awareness of the environment, etc.
What rapidly seems like a collection of homeschooling, hipster stereotypes was relieved by the addition of a harsh dose of reality in the form of a grandfather who joins the group. Cranky, old fashioned, disapproving 'Grumps' is a stereotype of the disapproving member of the past generation who just does not 'get' why everything needs to be different now. There are some miserable interactions between our main character, Sumac, and Grumps as she tries to get to know him better and he tries to cope with his progressing dementia and sadness. No matter how oddly constructed their family, at heart the book is about people and how we try to understand one another in times of difficulty.
The book tried too hard for me in the end. Things seemed just a little bit too forced in the diversity angle. Yes, I do know people who have named their children after trees and have odd terms for different things.It makes home life a little more unique and amusing but it makes for a confusing read when it is all jammed into one book. At some points it almost seems like the author was having some quiet fun with the idea of modern hipsters.The detailing of the daily lives of the family, their differences and their quirks took over the book and pushed the central story of Grumps and Sumac to the edges of the page. Grumps' slowly progressing dementia is lightly touched on and when he has a change of heart (obviously) it is abrupt and it feels like the author should focused more on how that happened instead of only aiming at burnishing the differences in the family from the norm.
There are better books out there about homeschooling and diversity but this one certainly tries to push the envelope on just how different a family can be from the norm. Donoghue does dig a bit deeper into her characters to make them a bit more than just the gender flipping, environmentalist stereotypes that they start out as. However, by the end of the book I was left wondering how much of a success this book is going to be as a middle school read. It is certainly a book that will raise a lot of questions in the minds of a traditionally raised young reader and hopefully there will be someone willing to answer those questions when they come up.
4.0 out of 5 starsA wonderful way to reinforce an appreciation of diversity
Reviewed in the United States on 15 July 2017
The Lotterys Plus One by Emma Donoghue is a charming book which, at its heart, is about the path to tolerance and acceptance and finally love.
Sumac Lottery is a 9 year old girl who lives in a large, sprawling Victorian house filled with her large, sprawling family. Life is almost idyllic until her Scottish grandfather, who none of the children have ever met, is suddenly forced to move into the Lottery household.
Her Grandfather, Iain (who Sumac almost instantly dubs "Grumps",) has issues with his son's family and lifestyle, which is unconventional. Even worse, he has been diagnosed with dementia. Grumps is literally counting the days until he thinks he can return to his home and Sumac is counting them, too. When Sumac finds out Grumps will never be leaving, she makes it her mission to find an alternative place for Gramps to live so she can get her life (and her room) back.
This book is funny and easy to read. Be aware that it touches on issues like gay and lesbian parents, blended families, adoption, mixed race children and relationships, differently-abled children as well as dementia. The author is deft and sensitive in her handling of these topics and the book is completely appropriate for children, however.
I truly enjoyed this book and as a mother of 7 (some adopted and some differently-abled), the busy, noisy, Lottery household rings true. I loved the way the four parents allowed Sumac to work through her conflicted feelings about the new addition to the family and I loved the family itself. I even loved Grumps. My 14 year old son is reading this book now and I think it's a wonderful way to reinforce an appreciation of diversity and the concept that family is what you make it.
4.0 out of 5 starsQuirky, Pleasant Read (a little bit of work)
Reviewed in the United States on 23 March 2018
This was a fun read, and the characters were definitely interesting, but sometimes it felt like it was trying to do a little too much. Though that was a key element of the plot--everything about the Lottery family was a little too much! As a reader, the chaos of names and quirks and relationships and family vernacular was disorienting and a little distracting, making the actual story fade into the background a little bit. As with the Lottery family, however, full immersion into this non-traditional storytelling kind of worked. The grandfather's deteriorating condition and acceptance of his new reality also felt rushed within the time frame of the story.
The abundance of interesting characters made up for the troubles I had with pacing and hints of preachiness, and the overall lesson of family love always having room for expansion was a good one.
4.0 out of 5 starsModern day mixed family adventure
Reviewed in the United States on 18 May 2017
As many people have stated, this is the story of a multi-cultural family and how they are impacted when a grandfather comes to live with them. The main character, Sumac, is 9 years old is very no-nonsense and sees things as they are.
I admit I struggled a little with the characters. The siblings were hard to keep straight and the constant references to the parents such as "CardaMom" became a strain for the eyes. I also couldn't remember which pet was which. It is because of this confusion that I am deducting a star.
I appreciate the authors' giving us such a diverse family and showing how they can all make it work, kind of like a modern day Brady Bunch. I think this would be a good discussion book for the target audience of 8-12-year-olds. Overall an enjoyable read.
4.0 out of 5 starsFun look at a non-traditional family for early chapter readers
Reviewed in the United States on 12 July 2018
A charming book for mid-graders, probably best for 3rd through 6th-grade readers, this chapter book tells the story of a family that is forced to come together and to reconcile differences after a long silence. The cast of characters is incredibly diverse and while this gives a great storyline, the cast quickly grows in number and becomes difficult to keep track of their stories. Overall, this provides a great example of children's literature featuring non-traditional family arrangements and does so in a loving and fresh manner. I'm sure this provides just as much introduction to some parents as it does to children, and does so in a really fun, albeit confusing at times, manner.
While I don't think the writing is stellar - this is no Little Women or Anne of Green Gables - what I DID really appreciate is the family portrayed and the depiction of a multi-racial, multi-parent household as ordinary. Kudos to the author for being willing to give writing about a family that is beyond traditional/nuclear a shot. Yes, some of the incidents seem a little precious and/or forced, but on the whole this book works hard to normalize what shouldn't actually have to be, for those who might still think of such a family structure as strange.
I loved the idea of a story about a large, unruly, progressive family. I was more curious, however, to see how this would be for my young daughter. She loves to read and reads beyond her age, but she is only 6 (almost 7), so she’s a bit younger than the target audience of 8-12 year-olds. I was worried the story would be too complicated for her to follow, but I needn’t have worried. I believe some of the clever wordplay and probably some of the deeper messages were lost on her, but she enjoyed reading about this complicated family. She also enjoyed finding analogies in our own life (two daddies just like our friend C has but also two mommies!). Yes, the construct stretches credulity, but kids aren't as bothered by that as adults seem to be. She has already picked up this one to read again, so I’d call that a success!
4.0 out of 5 starsGreat story with a diverse family
Reviewed in the United States on 2 June 2017
This is a great story for middle readers (my almost 9 year old loved it and finished it in about 2 weeks). What drew me to the story was that it centered around a diverse, non-traditional family. We need more stories like this, because many kids don't have a married mom and dad at home and they need stories that they can see themselves in. This book is a great lesson on tolerance and the adjustments we have to make throughout life, while still remaining true to our values