Saturday, September 17, 2022

Billion Dollar Girl

Shull, Megan. Billion Dollar Girl
September 13th 2022 by Razorbill
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

River has lived her whole life with her single mother, Sunny, who is young and fun, but also very unreliable. Currently, Sunny hasn't been back for days, and River is living alone in a decrepit trailer with little food. Her best friend's mother won't let her hang out with River anymore, and her school principal has informed her that she'll be stopping by at 7:00 in the evening with a social worker, because it's come to her attention that River needs help. Instead of getting this help, River takes all of the money in the trailer and sets off to buy a bus ticket to Great Bear Island. When she gets on the ferry to finish her journey, she meets the exuberant Cricket, who mistakes River for a 17-year-old named Liv whom she is supposed to meet so that the two can work at the lodge. Not knowing quite how to approach her aunt, Jemma, River goes along with the charade and is soon loving life on the island. Her cousin, Till, is fantastic, the girls are staying in a lighthouse, and her mother's journals and clothes that she left behind when she ran away help River feel connected to the mother she loves, even if she is also disappointed in her. Things go fairly well for quite some time, but then Cricket and River make some bad decisions and need to be rescued. When Sunny shows up with a new boyfriend, River goes back to the mainland with her without question. During her initial bus trip, an older woman gave River a note, which she hasn't read. When she finally does, she realizes it contains a lottery ticket... which is a winner of a huge jackpot. Of course, Sunny thinks this is great, and the two, along with her boyfriend, get involved in a life of living large while waiting to claim the winnings. Is this really the life that River wants, or does she really want to go back and live on Great Bear Island?
Strengths: My students really love reading about the kind of horrible situation that River finds herself in at the beginning of the book. My daughter explained this well, saying that reading about children with horrible home lives made her middle school experience seem not so bad. There could have been a whole book about River's experiences with living in the trailer and navigating school while trying not to be discoverer. The trip to the island is also fantastic, and there are great details about all of the wonderful natural resources. Jemma and her family are understanding, and River learns about a whole new way of life. There is also some interest in reading about lottery winners, which are main characters in books like Tashjian's My Life as a Billionaire, West's Lucky in Love, Haworth's A Whole Lot of Lucky, Smith's WindfallMcAnulty's Millionaires for a Month
Weaknesses: This is a very long book for middle grade (416 pages), and the cover is not very appealing. 
What I really think: I liked parts of this one a lot, but it seemed like several different books rolled into one. I may have a couple of interested students check this one out of the public library and see what they think before I buy it. If it were shorter or had a better cover, I would definitely purchase, but this may be a hard sell in my library. 
 Ms. Yingling

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