STARRED REVIEW
April 2017

An unconventional family bands together to welcome a new member

By Emma Donoghue, illustrated by Caroline Hadilaksono

In a departure from such evocative adult works as Room and The Wonder, Emma Donoghue crafts her first novel for children, The Lotterys Plus One. Set in progressive Toronto, it begins: “Once upon a time, a man from Delhi and a man from Yukon fell in love, and so did a woman from Jamaica and a Mohawk woman.” When the two couples befriended one another, had a baby together and won the lottery, the result is enough money to buy a huge home (dubbed Camelottery) and more than enough love to fill it with seven children (all named after trees).

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In a departure from such evocative adult works as Room and The Wonder, Emma Donoghue crafts her first novel for children, The Lotterys Plus One. Set in progressive Toronto, it begins: “Once upon a time, a man from Delhi and a man from Yukon fell in love, and so did a woman from Jamaica and a Mohawk woman.” When the two couples befriended one another, had a baby together and won the lottery, the result is enough money to buy a huge home (dubbed Camelottery) and more than enough love to fill it with seven children (all named after trees).

Told from the perspective of 9-year-old Sumac, the fifth child, the story describes this whirlwind family that lives green without a car, eats all-natural and thrives on individuality. Each child not only has a different racial background but also adds to the family through varying abilities, gifts and gender fluidity. Despite their seemingly chaotic lifestyle, the Lotterys value their rich family history.

The family’s fun-loving harmony is tested, however, when one dad’s father (a racist and homophobe, to boot) displays signs of dementia and moves in with the Lotterys. Even if their grandpa is more of a “Grumps,” can Sumac find it in herself—and help show the rest of the family—to find patience and love for one more?

Donoghue’s quirky family story is a winning combination.

 

ALSO IN BOOKPAGE: Read a Q&A with Emma Donoghue for The Lotterys Plus One.

This article was originally published in the April 2017 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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The Lotterys Plus One

The Lotterys Plus One

By Emma Donoghue, illustrated by Caroline Hadilaksono
Arthur A. Levine
ISBN 9780545925815

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