Luck" is a story of belonging, and the love and courage it can instill
within the human heart. And paradoxically, the freedom and feeling
of independence that a sense of belonging kindles in a soul that
is hungry for life in all its glories and disappointments.
Hallie Palmer is a spirited 16-year-old girl in a midwestern town
who is suffocating in her Christian home and bored by her high school
classes. To add spark to her life she plays hooky, bets at the nearby
horseracing track and cons a place for herself at the local Good
Old Boys poker game. And though she doesn't have much luck with
the ponies, Hallie does possess a quick mind for probability theory
that translates into a God-given gift for winning at cards. Armed
with this blessing it is her desire to go to Las Vegas and seek
However fate intervenes in the form of "Madame Horsefly" in the
11th race and Hallie suddenly finds herself working as a "yard person"
to earn back enough money to stake herself at the gaming tables
in Nevada. The household where she temporarily takes up residence
is completely unlike her traditional home and family. Olivia Stockton,
the matriarch, is a modern day "Auntie Mame," either pushing or
pulling sixty, depending on who you believe. Olivia takes Hallie
in hand and introduces her to a world far from their small town,
that of the mind, and also of passion -- from Shakespeare, Shelley
and Modigliani, to silk negligees, fortune telling and herbal teas
with mysterious healing properties.
As Olivia undertakes Hallie's education, her son Bernard, in Henry
Higgins/Pygmalion fashion, exults at the prospect of molding the
truant tomboy into a lady. He therefore oversees the areas where
his mother is sorely lacking -- home decorating, distinguishing
rosemary from rutabagas, and designing an exquisite dress for the
prom. And of course in return Hallie teaches Bernard how to play
a mean game of poker.
"Beginner's Luck" is in many ways an old-fashioned novel, propelled
by such small mysteries as "Why won't Hallie go to school? Did someone
abuse or bully her there?" "Who stole the money for the charity
golf tournament?" "Will Olivia take a lover while her husband is
still alive though ailing?" and "Is it possible that Olivia's a
"Laura Pedersen delivers…If this book hasn't been made
into a screenplay already, it should be soon. Throughout, you
can't help but think how hilarious some of the scenes
would play on the big screen."
-The Hartford Courant
"Funny, sweet-natured, and well-crafted…Pedersen has created a
wonderful assemblage of…whimsical characters and charm."
"This novel is funny and just quirky enough to become
a word-of-mouth favorite….Pedersen has a knack for
capturing tart teenage observations in witty asides, and Hallie's
naivete, combined with her gambling and numbers savvy,
make her a winning protagonist."
"A breezy coming-of-age novel with an appealing
cast of characters."
"A fresh and funny look at not fitting in."