Release date: 4th August 2011 UK
Genre: Contemporary YA
Target audience: 12+
UK Publisher: Frances Lincoln
Lia’s Guide to Winning the Lottery is a contemporary tale of teen life and all the comic, disastrous traumas that go hand in hand with that. Oh, and it’s also about winning the lottery and has a lot more substance than you might expect from the cover.
Lia is your typical sixteen year old British teenage girl. She goes to school, has great friends, argues with her mother and is, at times, irritatingly selfish. At the beginning of the story she is so annoying. She has what I like to think of as teenage tunnel vision. It’s all about me, me, me! And yet, I was cringing reading this book because I can see a little of my own teenage self in her. I would never have stolen money from my mum’s purse but I certainly remember thinking that I was hard done by and that my sister was always being treated differently from me. I’m sure if you ask my sister, she’ll say exactly the same. You’ve got to love sibling rivalry.
On the night that Lia wins the lottery, her mum loses her patience and tells her to get out. So Lia doesn’t get the chance to tell her family that she’s won the lottery. Perhaps she doesn’t really try but it doesn’t take long for her millionaire status to come to light. Lia faces all the problems you’d expect her to face after going from rags to riches in one night. She falls out with her friends. She becomes the victim of a mean Facebook page. Her parents want her to make some serious decisions. All Lia really wants is to get to know the mysterious Raf.
It’s no secret that I love Keren David’s writing. I was nervous starting this book that I just wouldn’t get it. Teen girl books are so not my thing. But as soon as I started it, I realised it had all the Keren hallmarks. The tone of the writing is so Keren. The subject matter is too. On one level it is a fun story about winning the lottery. But look just a little deeper and you’ll see that it’s also about the influence of money and frankly the ridiculousness of it. I think we often forget that humans invented money. It’s not a fossil fuel. All you hear on the news is about national debts, how we need to cut spending, austerity measures. But this is what I don’t get - we could just print more. So when you think about it money is completely stupid. Look at how lucky we are in the UK - we have a NHS, we have free education, we have a welfare state. Then look at all the other countries around the world that are facing famine, poverty disease. Could it be more mind-boggling? I love how Lia addresses these issues in her quest to deal with her new found wealth without ever coming across as preachy.
Lia’s Guide touches on lots of other issues too – teen sex, bullying, drinking - but what I think this book shows brilliantly is that at sixteen there really are very few of us who know what we want to do with life. I think Lia’s gran has it right when she says “just muddle through”. This is by no means a message book but if teens take that away after reading it, then their worries will be that little be less burdensome.
Lia’s Guide to Winning the Lottery felt like effortless reading. I loved all the fallen angel references Keren! (If you want to know what I mean, you'll have to read that book). It is face-paced, funny and full of barmy Britishness. A great pick me up over these dark Wintry nights. Lia's Guide has a real feel good factor.
Thank you to Frances Lincoln for sending the book to review.Read for the British Books Challenge.