Thursday, March 12, 2009

If I Won the Lottery....

Let’s be honest: we’ve all had the lottery fantasies. Every time there’s a big jackpot, even those of us who don’t ever buy a ticket start thinking about what we would do with all that money. All these happy thoughts are just that – happy. But what about the downside? What about all those stories about those lucky winners who were bankrupt within a few years, their lives, relationships, and credit scores damaged beyond quick repair? How does it happen? How can so much good luck cause so much grief? Lucy Parker, the heroine of Whitney Gaskell’s novel Good Luck, finds out firsthand just how tricky being a big winner can be.

When we meet Lucy, she is being fired from her job as a private school teacher due to some unfounded allegations by an angry student whose parents are large donors to the school. She goes to her friend Maisie for coffee and sympathy, trying to figure out how she will survive without a paycheck, and the two joke about the large lottery jackpot. Lucy leaves for home and one broken down car and one lottery ticket later, she walks into her house to find her live-in boyfriend in flagrante delicto with a silicone enhanced blonde wearing far too much jewelry and nothing else. In a state of numb disbelief, she decides both of them must go. The next morning she wakes up jobless, boyfriendless, and in possession of a lottery ticket worth $87 million, before taxes.

And then everything is just peachy, right? Well, not exactly. Still reeling from the worst day of her life, Lucy tells no one of her good fortune, hoping to remain anonymous. Unfortunately, she can’t do it for long, and within a week her life becomes a media circus. Lucy finds that her sudden good fortune is bringing out the worst in the people around her, including her family. She goes into hiding with a friend in West Palm Beach, changing her hair, her clothes, and even her name, only to find that living a lie is not an easy task. Her new financial advisor had told her to trust no one; advice Lucy follows selectively, only to find that her own prejudices are coloring her good judgment. The whole experience of sudden vast wealth teaches her a lot not only about the people around her, but about herself as well.

Overall, this book is both interesting and entertaining; it made me think about what my priorities would be if I suddenly won a jackpot, and what the likely reaction of my friends and family would be. The only issue I had was the fact that Lucy really wasn’t much of a fighter, and I didn’t have a lot of respect for her at the beginning of the book. I did get past this as I watched her struggle with her new situation and grew to like her more, but it took a bit of time. The evolution of her relationships with her family, her friends, and the new men in her life is well developed and for the most part believable. If you are looking for a little light romance and an interesting premise, this book is worth picking up.

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