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Summer of My Amazing Luck [Paperback]

Miriam Toews
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 19.95
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Book Description

July 25 2006
A Novel by the Governor General’s Literary Award—winning author of A Complicated Kindness

Lucy Van Alstyne always thought she’d grow up to become a forest ranger. Instead, at the age of eighteen, she’s found herself with quite a different job title: Single Mother on the Dole. As for the father of her nine-month-old son, Dillinger, well…it could be any of number of guys.

At the Have-a-Life housing project–aptly nicknamed Half-a-Life by those who call it home–Lucy meets Lish, a zany and exuberant woman whose idea of fashion is a black beret with a big silver spider brooch stuck on it. Lish is the mother of four daughters, two by a man on welfare himself and twins from a one-week stand with a fire-eating busker who stole her heart–and her wallet.

Living on the dole isn’t a walk in the park for Lucy and Lish. Dinner almost always consists of noodles. Transportation means pushing a crappy stroller through the rain. Then there are the condescending welfare agents with their dreaded surprise inspections. And just across the street is Serenity Place, another housing project with which Half-a-Life is engaged in a full-on feud. When the women aren’t busy snitching on each other, they’re spreading rumours–or plotting elaborate acts of revenge.

In the middle of a mosquito-infested rainy season, Lish and Lucy decide to escape the craziness of Half-A-Life by taking to the road. In a van held together with coat-hangers and electrical tape and crammed to the hilt with kids and toys, they set off to Colorado in search Lish’s lost love and the father of her twins. Whether they’ll find him is questionable, but the down-and-out adventure helps Lucy realize that this just may be the summer of her amazing luck.

Miriam Toews’s debut novel, Summer of My Amazing Luck opens our eyes to a social class rarely captured in fiction. At once hilarious and heartbreaking, it is inhabited by an unforgettable and poignant group of characters. Shortlisted for both the McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award and for the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour, it also earned Miriam the John Hirsch Award for the Most Promising Manitoba Writer.

Frequently Bought Together

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Originally published in Canada in 1996, this light treat by the author of A Complicated Kindness and A Boy of Good Breeding sees 18-year-old single mother Lucy Van Alstyne join the nouveau poor on the dole in Winnipeg, Manitoba. At a public housing complex nicknamed Half-A-Life, mothering is the noblest calling and absent fathers are as relevant as orbiting "space junk." Lucy doesn't know which of "eight or nine" fleeting lovers fathered her infant son, Dillinger (named after John Dillinger, who Lucy insists is a lucky man and still alive); her fast friend Alicia fantasizes about reuniting with the fire-eating juggler who got her pregnant with twins during a one-night stand several years earlier. Lucy fabricates letters to Alicia from the fire-eater, and the two women and their five kids set off to search for him. The novel offers a humorous look at the absurdities of the Canadian welfare system while unwinding the intricacies of a sticky-sweet friendship. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From Booklist

Eighteen-year-old Lucy isn't sure who the father of her nine-month-old son, Dillinger, is: "Usually, I just enjoyed Dill without wondering how exactly he got here." Her closest friend is wild, dynamic Lish, a young mother who, like Lucy, lives on the dole in a Winnipeg housing project. In a voice that's vulnerable, observant, and deadly funny, Lucy describes a summer among the projects' eccentric residents: the hippies, who heal earaches with onions; the refugees of abusive and lost love; and open, bohemian Lish, who helps Lucy face her own sorrows and confusions. The author of A Complicated Kindness (2004) and A Boy of Good Breeding (2006) offers another memorable portrait of a struggling young person who finds unexpected resilience and peace: "That should be the mark of success . . . just a general feeling of happiness," says Lucy. While the vivid scenes don't add up to a cohesive whole, readers will return to the hilarious, heartbreaking dialogue and the poignant questions about finding love, making a life, and discovering how stories and secrets impact others. Gillian Engberg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Summer of My Amazing Luck, Miriam Toew's first novel, tells the story of single mothers who inhabit the fictional "Have-A-Life"- (A.K.A."Half-A-Life") welfare project in downtown Winnipeg. Single mom's on welfare seems an unlikey basis for humour, but Summer of My Amazing Luck, shortlisted for the Stephen Leacock Humour Prize in 1997, is gut-busting, laugh-out-loud hilarity. Told through the eyes of eighteen-year-old Lucy, who lives at "Half-a-Life" with her baby boy "Dillinger", we meet the Lucy's older, more worldly confident, the eccentric Lish, who's raising three young daughters, and is in deparate search for her one true love, a fire-eater from Colorado, the father of her twins.On the backdrop of Winnipeg's mosquito infested rainy season, Lucy and Lish try to make homes for their children, and find love and contentment in their own lives; we pity, admire and love them for it. Summer of My Amazing Luck is a wonderful book, and a tribute to mothers everywhere.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars hilarious Feb. 10 2007
By mckaina
Format:Paperback
I read "a complicated kindness" by this author and when I saw summer of my amazing luck at the grocery store, I thought I would pick it up. It was so much fun to read. I couldn't put it down. I laughed. it's a good one to pick up if you want to escape from the real world and drift into something else.
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By A Customer
Two single mothers living hand-to-mouth grapple with their desires to be loved and accepted and the relentless search for meaning in life. Ranges from humorous to pathetic. Leaves the reader with understanding, pity, and possibly even admiration for the unlikely heroines.
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2.0 out of 5 stars This story didn't go anywhere May 1 2012
Format:Paperback
I was excited to read "The Summer of My Amazing Luck," as I'd previously read (and highly enjoyed) A Complicated Kindness. A few pages in, I found myself confused by what was going on. There was no plot, no direction, and nothing to keep me reading. I didn't feel any connection to the characters. This is the type of book that I normally go for: Something dark, edgy, and about people who don't "fit in" with the mainstream. I put the book down, disappointed. I like Toews' style of writing, and was drawn to this book because it was so Canadian.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Miriam Toew's First Novel is an unlikely vehicle for humour May 10 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Summer of My Amazing Luck, Miriam Toew's first novel, tells the story of single mothers who inhabit the fictional "Have-A-Life"- (A.K.A."Half-A-Life") welfare project in downtown Winnipeg. Single mom's on welfare seems an unlikey basis for humour, but Summer of My Amazing Luck, shortlisted for the Stephen Leacock Humour Prize in 1997, is gut-busting, laugh-out-loud hilarity. Told through the eyes of eighteen-year-old Lucy, who lives at "Half-a-Life" with her baby boy "Dillinger", we meet the Lucy's older, more worldly confident, the eccentric Lish, who's raising three young daughters, and is in deparate search for her one true love, a fire-eater from Colorado, the father of her twins.On the backdrop of Winnipeg's mosquito infested rainy season, Lucy and Lish try to make homes for their children, and find love and contentment in their own lives; we pity, admire and love them for it. Summer of My Amazing Luck is a wonderful book, and a tribute to mothers everywhere.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Single mothers' Canadian club Dec 21 2006
By D. P. Birkett - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Lucy, the first person narrator, and Lish are unwed mothers living in public housing in Winnipeg, Manitoba, a place where Fargo is considered the warm south. Lucy does not know the father of her child because "if you eat a whole can of beans how can you tell which one gave you gas." There are so many unfathered children in the building that their version of the alphabet song is "ABCDEFGHIJKalimony please". Both Lucy and Lish have difficult relationships with conventional respectable unsupportive (in the emotional sense) fathers of their own. These relationships form a faint thread of a plot, although the novel is largely made up of the intersecting stories of the other mothers in the building.

I was reminded of Adrian Leblanc's serious non-fiction "Random Family." That's a great book but Toew's is better, and actually contains more information about the singles mother's predicament, and offers more insight into her motivation, as well as being hilariously funny..

Once again we have a great Canadian female writer. Why is Canada the only country where a list of the top five writers cannot be made up that is not predominantly female?
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting. Everything but the kitchen sink included. Jan. 14 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Two single mothers living hand-to-mouth grapple with their desires to be loved and accepted and the relentless search for meaning in life. Ranges from humorous to pathetic. Leaves the reader with understanding, pity, and possibly even admiration for the unlikely heroines.
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow March 11 2012
By Ferd - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
It was amazing. Unbelievably good. Prose was clean. Sarcastic humor and wit. I want to be friends with all the characters in this book. Sing Dylan kicks butt.
4.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful read June 19 2011
By Murphed - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and, in fact, had a hard time putting it down. The characters are wonderful and quirky and sad and funny, all at the same time. Miriam is a wonderful writer. I highly recommend An Uncomplicated Kindness as well.
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