In this imaginative novella inspired by real-life situations (the author thanks “all my friends who told me their embarrassing situations”), a weekend getaway becomes a fortuitous journey for a young man trying to escape an avalanche of disasters.
When curiosity about an out-of-place vase causes a major mishap at his girlfriend’s country home, Gabriel James panics and leaves—and suddenly what started as a good day deteriorates. From car problems, precarious hikes, and running from wild animals, to lost keys, missed trains, mistaken identity, and arrest for assault and kidnapping, Gabriel’s downward spiraling day seems indicative of the adage “if it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all.”
The author’s native Slovakia provides a fairy-tale-like backdrop to the story, while Gabriel’s encounter with weekend hiker Etta lends some European flavor to the language (both characters are Brits). Conversations and the forward motion of events give depth to the story’s slight, one-day timeframe. “[W]hen you don’t know where you are or what to do, just keep walking,” advises the passionate, adventurous Etta to a less daring Gabriel.
The narrative’s opening prologue sparks immediate interest with Gabriel’s arrest, although here, the prose has a staccato-like feel. Fortunately, the narrative becomes much more fluid in subsequent chapters. Eventually, the adventure comes full circle, with the book’s final moments returning to the opening scene—but with a hilarious twist. All told, the story cleverly accentuates how sometimes it can be hard to catch a break. (One caveat: a debacle with a grocery cart seems a bit far-reaching.)
Collage-style illustrations opening each chapter may suggest a younger readership, but the story is worthy of a wider audience. An entertaining tale with affable characters entwined in a string of Murphy’s Law incidents, Just My Luck draws laughter and empathy from relatable foibles, but also finds counterbalance with lessons of learning to go with the flow.
Also available in hardcover.