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?

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4 years ago

I can’t believe this book deals with such tough issues and has a 13 year old protagonist! Child narrators sometimes have to deal with such not so innocent things.

Great review. Thanks for visiting my blog 🙂

Paul Liadis
4 years ago

“I loved seeing such a responsible, loving, kind teen who would do so much for her family”

This sounds similar to the kid in the book I mentioned the other day, See You in the Cosmos.

This one sounds really good. I shall add it to my list.

4 years ago

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. 🙂

4 years ago

Oh wow, I typically avoid YA contemps for your reasons..but this sounds like one of the rare ones I should read. Lovely review!

Jeann @ Happy Indulgence

Wow, it sounds like this book definitely takes you through an emtoinal journey! Thanks for the awesome review Ava!

Grab the Lapels
4 years ago

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
4 years ago

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.

Liz Scanlon
4 years ago

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!

4 years ago

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! 🙂

4 years ago

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

4 years ago

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!

Dragonfly @ Our Familiarium
Dragonfly @ Our Familiarium
4 years ago

oh man. I’ll have read this one… TOO!. SMH! LOL I can’t pass on a book about a child that has to take over for irresponsible parents! they are usually way too good. Great review as usual xoxo

Dragonfly @ Our Familiarium
Dragonfly @ Our Familiarium
4 years ago

haha I just realized I should change my about page to say “I read whatever Evelina promotes” LOL 😉

4 years ago

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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