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A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy
Inside A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy

Round 1, Match 7

Match 7: Rose Under Fire v The Thing About Luck, Judge Malinda Lo

My prediction: “Rose Under Fire because Lo writes young adult books.”

And NOOOOOOO. Lo totally let me down by not being Team YA!

BoB2014 MG R1 M7 Round 1, Match 7: Rose Under Fire vs The Thing About Luck

What I liked best about Lo’s decision is the analytic approach she took.

I’ve decided that making this judgement call requires me to think like a writer (which isn’t much of a stretch since that’s what I am). Both are first-person novels. Which does it better?

Lo steps back as a writer, as an examiner of the craft. But though the shape is appropriate, I felt that the means by which the shape is formed — Rose’s journal entries — did not quite work. Rather than bringing me closer to Rose’s experience, I felt distanced from it because I knew, due to the journal entry dates, that Rose survived. Writing a novel in journal form is a complicated task for many reasons, and while I admire Elizabeth Wein for doing it, I think Rose’s story might have been better served in a more straightforward first-person narrative. For that reason, I choose Cynthia Kadohata’s The Thing About Luck, and Summer’s pitch-perfect first-person voice, to win this round.

It doesn’t matter whether or not I agree with Lo — I’m not the judge here, and as we’ve seen, anything goes with these decisions! — but I do appreciate being able to understand, and see, where Lo comes from in making this decision.

Even if this totally destroys my brackets.

About Elizabeth Burns

Looking for a place to talk about young adult books? Pull up a chair, have a cup of tea, and let's chat. I am a New Jersey librarian. My opinions do not reflect those of my employer, SLJ, YALSA, or anyone else. On Twitter I'm @LizB; my email is