________________ CM . . . . Volume XXII Number 1. . . .September 4, 2015


A Big Dose of Lucky. (Secrets).

Marthe Jocelyn.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2015.
249 pp., trade pbk., pdf & epub, $14.95 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-4598-0668-9 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4598-0669-6 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-4598-0670-2 (epub). A “Secrets” Boxed Set is available for $79.95. ISBN 978-1-4598-1082-2

Grades 7-12 / Ages 12-17.

Review by Tara Stieglitz.

**** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



I can see them from a mile away.

The only brown faces to come out of Parry Sound High School are headed in my direction. The one in the front is Jimmy, waving.

“You found us,” he says. “This is Pete. And Lucy. Guys, meet Malou.”

Pete has darker skin than Jimmy. Darker than mine. That’s what I see first. Brown eyes, bright like Jimmy’s, but nappy hair like mine, cut close to his head.

“You made it.” Jimmy makes it sound as if I’m meeting them on top of a mountain during a windstorm.

We nod and stand there, pretending not to stare.


Malou has always stuck out; not only is she an orphan, but she is also mixed-race, and in her small town in 1960s Ontario, being anything but white certainly makes a person stand out. Malou knows nothing of her family as she was left at the orphanage when she was still a newborn baby and has lived there all her 16 years. When the orphanage burns down, Malou is left on her own with only a single clue as to her origins and family, and so she sets out on a quest to find her family and discover why she was left at an orphanage. This leads Malou to Parry Sound, another small Ontario town, but one with a suspiciously large number of other dark-skinned teenagers. As Malou investigates, she discovers ties that bind her to these other kids and deep secrets held by more than one Parry Sound family.

      A Big Dose of Lucky is an excellent book. The novel is about a young woman finding her origins without the story being sentimental or clichéd. Malou has led a sheltered life at the orphanage and often reveals an innocent naiveté, but her resourcefulness and intelligence counteract this to make her an engaging and likable character to whom readers will relate. The cast of characters in the book is very diverse, but it never feels forced and avoids the pitfalls of tokenism.

      A Big Dose of Lucky is an entertaining book and a great mystery that will also introduce readers to an interesting sliver of medical history in Canada. A worthy addition for public and school libraries.

Highly Recommended.

Tara Stieglitz is a librarian at MacEwan University in Edmonton, AB.


A Big Dose of Lucky. (Secrets).

Marthe Jocelyn. Narrated by Kelly Pruner.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2015.
6.45 hours, CD (5 discs) & mp3, $29.95 (CD), $19.95 (mp3).
ISBN 978-1-4598-1086-0 (CD), ISBN 978-1-4598-1087-7 (mp3).

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

Next Review | Table of Contents For This Issue - September 4, 2015
CM Home
| Back Issues | Search | CM Archive | Profiles Archive