Author: Holly Schindler
Synopsis: August “Auggie” Jones lives with her Grandpa Gus, a trash hauler, in a poor part of town. So when her wealthy classmate’s father starts the House Beautification Committee, it’s homes like Auggie’s that are deemed “in violation.” Auggie is determined to prove that she is not as run-down as the outside of her house might suggest. Using the kind of items Gus usually hauls to the scrap heap, a broken toaster becomes a flower; church windows turn into a rainbow walkway; and an old car gets new life as spinning whirligigs. What starts out as a home renovation project becomes much more as Auggie and her grandpa discover a talent they never knew they had—and redefine a whole town’s perception of beauty, one recycled sculpture at a time. Auggie’s talent for creating found art will remind readers that one girl’s trash really is another girl’s treasure.
Huge thank you to Dial Books for Young Readers for an advance copy of this book!
I love going into a book where I have no expectations. I love to see where stories I might not have been interested in will take me. Sometimes you get a dud, or in this case, you get a wonderfully rich surprise. The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky definitely falls in the latter category, creating a story that teaches us about the importance of inner beauty and community.
Auggie’s voices in infectious. You can tell she’s the type of person who has a good head on her shoulders and wants what’s best for those around her. What I also love about her is that she understands what it means to live within one’s means and create beauty out of old junk. I love that she is at war with the House Beautification Committee, yet her overall question in the novel is “Who deems the right to say what is and isn’t beautiful?” It’s an amazing question to ask in middle grade fiction because we’re constantly seeing this issues take shape within media, yet the definition of beauty has always been subjective, though for younger readers its always a bit harder to grasp because peer pressure can be so strong.
Auggie combats a lot of this. You see this issues of peer pressure with characters like, Lexie, where its handled so perfectly, yet true friendship can and will conquer all. A lot of the characters were surprisingly memorable as well. My personal favourite was Weird Harold, he was just a delightful odd ball who’s hat always said something new that reflected what was happening within the plot. It was a clever gimmick on the author’s part, but I love his suspicions about the committee and his desire to fight. In fact, that’s really the main aspect I love about this novel: its sense of community.
This novel deals with segregation in a way that is so easy to comprehend without being childish. When you dig below the surface, Auggie lives in a place where the rich stay rich and the poor get poorer, yet the beauty lies in its approach. The characters who live at the Junction of Sunshine and Lucky are OKAY with being poor so long as they have places and friends to take care of. Everyone in the community has a strong desire to take care of one another and its quite a great sight to read about. I appreciated how community played a big role in this story as it added a lot overall.
The only thing that kept this book from being a five for me was how abrupt it ends. The conflict was so strong, yet towards the end it just felt like it trickled off. Still, it’s not often you read a book that incorporates folk art in such a way where its fun to read and accessible in the process. I think The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky will definitely have its share of readers who will easily resonate with a lot of its wonderfully positive messages, and it’s a great book for any middle grader on your list, especially those who have an interest in art.