In Holly Schindler’s book, The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky, there are two kinds of people: the ones that shine like Gus’s truck, Old Glory, and the kind who are dull like rusted metal at McGunn’s Scrapyard. The way I see it, books are the same way. Most books I read shine like Old Glory. Very few are rusted metal. However, even fewer books shimmer brighter, remembered fondly forever like sparkling gold. This book did.
Ms. Schindler’s book takes place in a small southern town called Willow Grove. It’s a story about an eleven-year-old girl named Auggie who finds a way to make old, broken things become beautiful sculptures. She finds their hidden potential with her grandfather, a trash hauler named Gus, but the book has so much more to it than that.
First of all, Auggie’s story includes more than a few discouraging challenges to do what she loves. Auggie’s best friend, Lexi, is giving up their friendship to hang out with Victoria Cole, the antagonist. Victoria is popular and better known in Willow Grove. Not many people listen to Auggie. She’s attending a new school, Dickerson, where she hopes to find her special something. So on top of the “first-day jitters”, she is trying to figure out who she is and face the misjudging Dickerson kids.
Secondly, Ms. Schindler represents the elements of the book in fascinating ways. One piece of the conflict’s resolution is represented by the name of Auggie’s neighborhood—Serendipity Place. This name is considered ironic by Auggie in the beginning of the book; everyone in her neighborhood is poor and their houses broken down. It doesn’t seem like a serendipitous, or lucky, community. In the end, though, the residents work on their houses and realize the truth about themselves and the name doesn’t seem quite so ironic anymore.
Third, there are many different characters in The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky. Characters who support Auggie. Characters who don’t. Characters who look at her sculptures and see art. Characters who can’t. Characters who choose not to see beauty in Auggie’s sculptures for personal or social reasons, like Lexi. Deep down, Lexi feels the sculptures are beautiful art, but pretends like she sees them as junk, like Victoria does. Lexi wants to impress Victoria because she wants Victoria as a friend. Victoria is rich, after all. Lexi thinks she needs Victoria. She doesn’t realize she already has who she needs—Auggie.
And finally, I can relate all those characters to people in real life. I notice qualities about people I have known for a long time I haven’t noticed before. Now that I understand the community of Willow Grove, I understand humans better.
What makes the story so real, so relatable, so irresistible to read is that the people in it aren’t the perfectly fictitious characters we hear about so much. Not even Victoria, who appears perfect on the outside, but broken and insecure inside. The other characters hold pieces of the world inside of them too and each is just as intriguing.
And then there is Auggie’s art. Her creativity, determination, and what comes out of it is so inspiring. Even when Victoria and the House Beautification Committee discourages her, Auggie plows on because she loves and respects what she is doing. Anybody might wish to be more like Auggie and I certainly do.
The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky brought the truth about art and people alive to me. If you are looking for an honest and inspiring book I would certainly recommend it.
The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky by Holly Schindler. Dial Books for Young Readers, 2014. Buy the book here and support Children's Art Foundation-Stone Soup in the process!
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