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I really loved this book for most of it. I loved Rico as a character: it's easy to empathize with her plight while also feeling frustrated (and understanding!) with how she lets her pride get in the way. It would be so much easier for the author to fall into the trap of making Rico a character for whom all you can do it feel bad, and that would just be too simple and too boring. Same for Zan and for Rico's mom; they're layered and interesting characters. (Rico's mom was so misguided...but I do think her often baffling decisions are actually pretty realistic for some people.)
The ending, though, is *bizarre* to me. It did occur to me at one point that Zan might have the ticket. But the fact that he did indeed have it and just withheld that information from her? It's cruel, of course, and *totally* ignorant of him, and super patronizing that he thought he needed to protect the elderly woman (and then Rico and her family, I guess?) from misusing the money. But above all, it's also just *really* incongruous with his character, in my opinion. YES, we know that he and his family have this idea about how "poor folk" can't manage their money, and YES, we know he's out of touch with certain economic realities. However, once he learns about Jax's illness and the debt the family is in, there's no way he wouldn't have given her the ticket. The novel shows us time and again that he's devoted to her and wants to help her in all the small and important ways. So it makes no sense to me that he wouldn't give her the ticket or at least, like, pretend to have found the ticket in the elderly lady's belongings. And then for it all to end with him patronizingly setting up all these various accounts and trusts to prevent her family from blowing the money right away...such a weird message! I get it, it's a proven thing that people who get a sudden windfall (from the lotto, from a will, from getting into pro sports, whatever) often lose their money quickly because they don't manage it well. But I'd have liked to see Rico get the money and see a money manager and have some agency in safeguarding it. It's weird to me that the lasting message (at least to me) was still that the rich man (Zan, here) knows best. I'm glad at least that they dont stay together at the end (because everything is so bizarre at this point with all the dishonesty and whatnot) but I'd have preferred an ending in which Zan wasn't a total jerk.
3.0 out of 5 starsA lottery heist with a biracial heroine!
Reviewed in the United States on 29 September 2019
JACKPOT is the story of a teenage girl living about an inch above the poverty line. She works at a convenience store clerk which is how she ends up meeting the woman who bought the winning lottery ticket and also the rich young heir, Zan, who ends up playing willing accomplice to her heist to notify the woman of her good fortune and, perhaps, get a cut of that sweet, sweet cash.
I haven't read anything by this author before, although I do actually own her other book, DEAR MARTIN, and I had a lot of mixed thoughts while reading. Ultimately, I do think I liked this book-- with reservations-- which I'll list out here.
What I liked:
✔️ Realistic portrayal of what it's like living paycheck to paycheck. I think a lot of YA and NA try to romanticize being low-income, like you have no cred if you aren't starving. It's always for a sacrifice or a cause and I hate that, because I think it feeds into the (mistaken) belief that people without money have done something to deserve that. Rico's struggles to provide with her family and their sacrifices really hit hard. I liked that a lot.
✔️ Diversity everywhere! Rico and her younger brother are biracial and so, actually, is Zan. There's a lot of interracial families in here, and lots of discussions about culture and not a whole lot of bigotry, while somehow also managing to talk about privilege and discrimination. I think it's a very positive rep, for the most part, and I really liked that a lot. I think a lot of teens probably will, too.
✔️ Female friendship. Jessica was a great and supportive character, and so was her boyfriend, Ness. The two of them as a couple were very cozy and I liked their interludes.
✔️ A good heist story. I like the idea of kids going on adventures to win money. Adventure stories were really big in the 80s and 90s and then kind of tapered off. My generation grew up with those types of stories so it was nostalgic to see a similar one, but wearing grown-up clothes. #YAS
What I didn't like:
❌ The weird interludes with inanimate objects. There's all these micro-chapters narrated from the point of view of inanimate objects (money, houses, pieces of paper, etc.). I didn't like that. It was a bit too surreal and precious, and kept yanking me out of the story. Whatever the author was going for, it didn't quite work and I wasn't a fan.
❌ The "sarcastic" humor. Same problem with the inanimate object interludes-- it felt like it was trying too hard. There were a few moments of genuine humor in here but it felt like Rico had to have a retort for literally everything and eventually it got exhausting and annoying. Rico was not a very nice character and while I get her struggles, she was really hard to like. I never warmed up to her, especially at the end when she reveals her true colors as to how far she'll go to get the winnings.
❌ The romance. I didn't really buy it. I didn't like Rico, so I didn't see what Zan saw in her and why he took all her attitude and meanness. It wasn't a very positive relationship. Zan had problems too and was too pushy and privileged and sometimes sexist, but he didn't make me recoil the way Rico did with all of her actions.
❌ The ending. Not going to say anything else on this because spoilers, but yeah.
This wasn't a bad book and ultimately I did end up liking it more than I disliked it, but it won't be topping any of my favorites lists any time soon. I think people will either love or hate this one, tbh, depending on how they feel about the main character and her "humor."
Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!
As a former high school English teacher and teen librarian, I love YA fiction. I was a huge fan of Nic Stone's Dear Martin, but this one doesn't hold a candle to it. The plot moves very slowly and the characters are unrelatable. Plus, I have read a few teens going road trip novels and I just don't get them. When I was a teen and when I worked with teens, this never ever happened. Also, there was a lot of build-up for a rather weak ending.
I dnf this book at 171. I have read other books by this author that I loved but this book just didn't work out for me at all. i had issues with Rico and the way she judged rich people but didn't want to be judged for being poor. Then you have Rico's mom who is 100% selfish and angered me to no end. Then you have Zan who is a sweetheart with a hero complex but it could be worse. I do like Jess who later on befriends Rico but I just can't keep going on with this story since the negatives outweigh the positives at this point.
I don't rate books I didn't finish but since I am required to leave a rating it will be 3 stars.
Reviewed in the United States on 16 September 2019
Okay, I wouldn't put this anywhere near The Hate U Give. I haven't finished it yet, but I am finding it a decent, quick read. The characters are relatable and the story is easy to follow. My 14 year old daughter is reading it also and seems to be enjoying it more than I am. Overall a good book if you are in to this genre.
Reviewed in the United States on 21 September 2019
I think this is a great read for younger readers. I had some issues with getting into it and holding my attention. I liked the authors previous work a little more. This was just down the middle for me. I do plan on saving this one for my nephew to see how he likes it as well.