Fiction, Kidlit, NetGalley

This One May Be A Winner After All You May Already Be A Winner by Ann Dee Ellis

#Wrong number 1

So at first I thought this book would be easy and fun. A kids’ read. Just what I need right now.

#Wrong number 2

Then I thought it would be a three star read.

#Wrong number 3

I thought it would be pretty forgettable. And that it would probably have typical tropes.

Well, guess again.

So let’s get down to the facts.

As you might have surmised, it’s a pretty emotionally loaded book. It took me through a rollercoaster of #feels, and although it took a while for it to really get serious, by the end it didn’t just make me angry at (some) adults and their horrible decisions, it also made me almost cry. It’s definitely a 4 star read, and I loved it.

What is the book about? We start by meeting Olivia, who is a 13 year old girl living in a trailer park. It’s just the three of them – her, her little sister and their mom. Olivia is every bit as responsible as her parents aren’t, so she misses school because there’s no one to watch over her little sister. She is actually very cute about it, giving her sister creative lessons she finds on the internet. It’s not that her mom is irresponsible, but she’s stressed because Olivia’s dad left, overworked because she has to care for two children alone and she is just not handling it. Olivia ends up having to make all the hard decisions for her mother, and take on way too much responsibility, basically bringing up her little sister and believing everything is actually her fault.

We see the journey of Olivia’s family straight into crash and ruin, and we see Olivia break up because it’s too heavy for her. It all makes you feel so angry, that it’s so unfair, and you can’t help thinking there ARE so many children who don’t have lunch money, who have to lie for their parents, who have to try to enter as many lotteries that they can so they could maybe survive (hence the name “You May Already Be A Winner”).

And the end is just so touching. It’s not a bad ending at all, although it seems like there’s no way it could end well.

I liked this book. I loved seeing such a responsible, loving, kind teen who would do so much for her family. And no heroics – do so much by just doing all the nasty little things most of us don’t have to do, like cook, clean, miss school because you’re a 13 year old adult raising someone else’s child, trying to protect your family from the authorities finding out and not ever exposing your feelings because you’re protecting someone else’s. Also: no instalove. Just loneliness vs friendship and playing with the cards you’re dealt.

I have to admit though, I’ll have an emotional hangover after this book. It was a ride. If you like reading about teens in tough situations, about growing and maturing, but without the typical self-pitying voice and deep dramatism, this is what you want to read. It’s a really down-to-earth story about growth and, well, life. I recommend it to any of my friends who like reading YA and middle grade contemporary.

P. S. Just look at that lovely cover.

You support this blog by buying the book from Book Depository.

I thank Ann Dee Ellis, Penguin Young Readers Group and NetGalley for providing this book in exchange to an honest review.

Have you heard about this book? And do you like stories about teen struggle through poverty and bad life conditions?

I’m Evelina and I try to blog about books that matter, with a bit of fun there too! Disability and equality will be topics you see a lot, but there’s also a lot of scifi, fantasy and… GIFs. I’m also the proud founder of #ARCsAnonymous.

29 thoughts on “This One May Be A Winner After All You May Already Be A Winner by Ann Dee Ellis

    1. Yes! I did mark that book in my ereaderIQ, for discount hunting 🙂 after you pointed it out, a lot of often reviewers have pointed that book out to me. And I hope you like this one 🙂 thanks for visiting, Paul!

  1. I hadn’t heard of this book before but it sounds like it might be my type of book! I’ll definitely add it to my to-read list and keep a look out for it after I finish some of my other summer reads. Thank you for the recommendation. 🙂
    Jamie recently posted…The Get To Know Me Book TagMy Profile

    1. Hey Jamie, thanks for visiting 🙂 this book isn’t written in a very fluent way, basically I just mean the way the writing felt to me. But I loved the messages it was giving, and the characters. So I hope you like this book 🙂

    1. Yeah, I know what you mean! Some things.. I believe you can “get too old” for 😀 or maybe that’s just me! But this one was good. Thanks!

  2. I’m glad to hear there are YA books that don’t have any romance in them. Romance gets exhausting. Whew, THINKING I was in love in high school was exhausting. It sounds like some of the darker themes in this book would put it firmly in the YA territory, but now that I think about it, maybe middle grade readers need to face some harder books. I remember reading The Great Gilly Hopkins and Bridge to Terabitiha and being devastated by both…and they’re both by Katherine Patterson. Damn her!
    Grab the Lapels recently posted…Big Mushy Happy Lump is Book 6 of the #20BooksofSummer Challenge! @SarahCAndersenMy Profile

    1. Yeah, you put it so well – exhausting. THAT’S what it is. So much drama, and most of it… sort of imagined? It’s what teen romance hinges on anyway. Romance just gets so complicated in YA books, like, they’ll tangle it up, make it unrealistic, or worse yet… make it SAVE people from their problems. Biggest lie in the universe… That should never be exploited, cause it does so much harm to society. Meh…
      So I think you gathered that I don’t really like romance books at all 😀 the only kind of romance I’ll take in YA is the light-hearted, no-big-thing one. That I’ll take. I suppose that was the kind of romance that I lacked as I was growing 😀 hahaha (booohooohooo… but that’s even funnier)
      Yeah, it’s really really hard to categorize this book. It’s like… between YA and middle grade. Even the tone is very… very in-between. And I never read The Bridge To Terabithia, but I saw the movie… That’s depression in a can, I can say. Yeah, kids shouldn’t be cushioned from that… As long as the book presents solutions, maybe. Or tells them that those feelings are valid.
      Also, thanks for your awesome comments! You’re such a good commenter, you always bring up good points and your comments require me to actually think before answering. It’s great!

      1. You’re welcome! In the past month I’ve reduced my list of blogs I follow to only people who comment on my posts, so I can be a good, devoted friend to them and their blog posts. I’m looking for community and friendship, not likes and stats. Makes blogging worth it.

        I think the reason romance in YA can easily bother me is that the books I read as a young adult always showed relationships that started in high school and were supposed to last forever. I don’t like that. I especially saw it in the Sweet Valley High books.

        1. Aw, I’m really happy I fall under that category then 🙂 I just know I wish I visited your blog more often 😀 time just runs away from me. It’s so hard to keep track of good blogs, and generally just… have time for things 😀
          The thing is, as I was growing up, YA wasn’t even a thing! I was in school like 10-15 years ago, YA only became a big thing as I was graduating university. So I never got to read it as a teen. But I got acquainted with it during the worst time – the wave of bad copycat YA that was following titles like The Hunger Games. So I had a really bad aftertaste. I don’t like romance much mainly because it’s all such a lie. 95% of people don’t even HAVE romance in their teens at all cause teenage years are just so messed up and you hardly even know what’s going on with you, and then there are all the hierarchies and drama to deal with. So few people form meaningful relationships in their teens, and you’re right – it’s sold like the norm! In no way is it the norm, nor should it be, probably.

  3. Book hangover… am I ready for one? No, I don’t think so… I’m a bit afraid. I read a book about two young brothers who were in between their parents divorce, and dealing with their fathers drug abuse and their mother’s… I don’t know what it was.. cowardice, perhaps? While it was a great book, it just left a sour taste in my mouth… but this one sounds like it has lighter moments as well to balance out… hmm… Must think about it 😉 Great review and I agree- that cover is fab!

    1. I know what you mean! It ends well, but it’s a tough book, so if you’ve still got lingering memories from a sad one, you should let this one go. I remember it made me so mad at the adult world! Just… I was flippin-table mad at one point! (That’s kind of funny, when you think about it, but books WILL do that to you)
      Thanks for visiting, Liz 🙂

  4. Oh wow. So I haven’t heard about this one yet but it sounds really good actually. It’ll be one of those books that I’ll have to mentally prepare myself for and one I can expect to leave me feeling all sorts of way, and then not want to read anything else for awhile. Sometimes these are exactly the kind of books I need at the time I least expect it. I’m so glad you enjoyed this one and it wasn’t your typical cookie-cutter storyline. Will be adding this to my TBR for sure. Great review! 🙂
    Christine recently posted…Release Day Review: Coming Up for AirMy Profile

    1. Thanks, Christine! You’ve summed up the feeling the book left me with so well. I’m glad you’re adding it, please let me know when/if you post a review, I would love to know what you thought about it 🙂

  5. This is an important book in the YA category I believe. I like how the protagonist is portrayed so positively as someone who helps the family and the mother. I am glad the ending lived to the rest of the novel too. A touching ending is a good one, and yes we cannot expect fairytales in realistic books

  6. Being forced to grow up too fast is one of the most violent things a kid/teen can go through emotionally, so I can understand why it made you feel so angry/sad. Knowing these type of stories exist in real life breaks my heart 🙁
    That’s why I’m a firm believer in not everyone being fit to have children, no matter what society dictates you should do.
    Amazing review, Evelina!

    1. Thank you so much 🙂 yes, I also think not everyone should have children. It’s directly related to our future as a species, so it’s extremely important. And that’s why it’s even sadder that the most likely people to have children are the ones that light be the least fit to have them, a lot of times.

  7. Amazing review for what sounds like a wonderful book. I like issue based YAs and this one does seem to tackle very heavy themes despite the protagonist being so young. Its a book that I would love to read and yes, that cover is gorgeous 🙂

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