Some kids have it, some don't. Some are born with it. Some will die without it.
In this short story, the reader experiences first hand what an 8th grade boy does when confronted with the "devils" of his neighborhood. Drugs, sex, pornography, stealing, all of it is tempting and you see this kid getting deeper and deeper until his mother does what many of the other moms don't do. She reins her son in, restricts him to the house, removes him from his so-called friends and we see that she does it just in time. Around him, the other teenagers are teetering on becoming criminals or worse, criminal-makers. They want this kid to be part of their world, to have their dismal lack of luck, so show him what's it's like to draw the short straw every day, every day. But, he survives, he makes a new friend and his luck changes and by the story's end we see him clinging to that fact..that luck CAN change. He clings to that belief even though as the reader, you see that it's not true. His luck simply...is.
This story is moving and heart breaking and it is written with an eye toward detail that keeps the piece humorous despite heavy undertones of hopelessness. With lines like "They had a clock in their house that said, "No Drinking Till After Five," and all the numbers on the clock were fives" and "We drank lemonade or root beer, and ate kumquats and stuffed the seeds up our noses" the reader gets a sense of voice that is brilliantly portrayed and very difficult to create in the first place.
For anyone looking for some fiction to get lost in, this story is it. I'll have to re-read it several more times to fully absorb its richness and depth.