The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had
Written By Kristin Levine
Project By Emma Ferringer
The main character in "The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had" is Harry Otis Sims, also known as Dit. Dit changes dramatically all throughout the book, and so does his soon-to-be friend, Emma Walker. Dit changes from a stereotypical little huntsman to a nature-loving, determined teen. Emma changes from a prim and proper city girl to an eager daredevil, ready to try new things. In the book at first, Dit says, "The boy's a girl" (Levine 5) because he thought that, when the Walker family moved into town, there was going to be a boy. Also, as soon as she steps off of the train and sees everyone staring at her, Emma whispers to her mama, "I don't think I'm going to like it here" (Levine 5). However, as they get to know each other, Dit and Emma realize that judging people by their appearances, black or white, tough or proper, should not get in the way of trying to make new friends. By the end of this book, Emma and Dit have experienced many things together, and they have learned many things from each other. Emma becomes more of a country person and less like an afraid city girl, and Dit becomes more caring for animals, and he sees the beauty in life.
"The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had" is set in Moundville, Alabama in 1917. The readers of this book can tell that the author, Kristin Levine, has researched many things about this particular year to aid her wiring to become more accurate. For example, when Emma and Dit are at a train station, they see a train going by filled with soldiers. " 'Good luck!" Emma yelled, and waved. 'Show those Germans what's what!' I added" (Levine 54). These couple lines from the book not only show that there were soldiers, but it also shows that they were on their way to fight Germany. The soldiers start throwing what Dit thinks are crackers, so he bites into one. " 'Ow!' I said. 'It's as hard as a piece of wood.' Mr. Walker laughed. 'It's hardtack, Dit. Never goes bad, so the soldiers carry it with them in their packs. Can't even break it with a hammer, but if you soak it in your mouth or in a pot of water, it'll slowly dissolve.' 'So why'd they throw it at us?' asked Emma. Mr. Walker shrugged. 'It's good luck' "(Levine 54-55). These lines show excruciatingly detailed facts about hard-tack that could have only been known through research.
The separation of blacks and whites is a huge conflict in this book. When the Walkers first get off the train into their new town, everyone is astonished that they are a colored family. They openly stare, mouths wide, at the new family. most people are okay with the family living in their town, but, as always, there are a few people who look down upon the new family. One of these people is a man called Big Foot. As Dit and Emma are school shopping, Big Foot comes up to them and says, "Only one school around here for a n*****. And if you ask me, that's one too many" (Levine 70). He says these cruel words to Emma because he overheard Emma and Dit talking about why Emma has to go to a different school than Dit. " 'But Elbert ain't learned nothing there. He can't read no better than Pearl.' 'Mama says I'll have to make the best of it.' Emma lowered her voice when we noticed Big Foot was standing at the end of the aisle. 'I don't really have a choice,' she whispered. Now that I thought about it, that didn't seem quite right" (Levine 69). These couple of lines show Dit's realization of how unfair the world around him truly is.