Monday, 10 October 2011
What do do if you win the Lottery
David has already made a mark on the children's book world with When I was Joe and its sequel, Almost True. It must have been a relief after those novels featuring knife crime, witness protection and life on the run, to turn to champagne, designer handbags and luxury hotels.
But although there are a younger sister with longings to go on Britain's Got Talent, love interest in a mystery boys and some delicious side swipes at the fashion for Paranormal Romance for teens, this is not a frivolous book.
Lia is flung up against some quite hard problems straightaway. What is the morality about keeping all the money? Should she give half to Jack, who bought the ticket? Buy a flat and go and live on her own or help out her struggling baker father and buy her family a new house? Should she stay on at school and take her exams? Lia is only sixteen and doesn't have all the answers.
At first, she doesn't come across as very likeable; in fact when we meet her, she is being thrown out of the house by her mother for being rude and obnoxious. And she does seem to me rather young for her age; more like a fourteen-year-old. But you have to be sixteen to play the lottery and that's the donnée of the book.
Later on it's important that she is sixteen for another reason.
All sorts of people come out of the woodwork claiming to be friends (= worthy to be bought expensive presents) while Lia's two real best friends both have problems with accepting anything from her. Jack wants a motorbike but his mother is terrified he'll have an accident when he gets it. And Shazia is made to return a few gifts because her father disapproves of the gambling represented by the lottery. Actually so does Shazia, when she comes to think of it, because she is a devout and serious girl.
All of which gives Lia food for thought. And then her little sister seems to be in danger.
It's an exciting read with plenty of surprises along the way. But a one-off, I think. I believe David will be returning to gritty adventure with her next book, a third title about Ty, the protagonist of the first two books.
Ah well, you only win the lottery once I suppose.