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?