Thank you to the publishers, Simon & Schuster, for sending me a copy to review for an online review magazine. My review is my honest opinion of the book.
Jackpot is a hard-hitting and thought-provoking story told mostly from the viewpoint of Rico Danger, a seventeen-year-old high school student, who is determined to track down the winner of a huge jackpot, after she discovers that the winning ticket has been sold in the place where she works, Gas ‘n’ Go.
Money – or rather, lack of it – is a huge deal to Rico as she and her family face the constant struggles that living on the breadline brings. Rico works long hours, goes to High School and helps look after her younger brother Jax, who she clearly adores. Her mother has made sure they are living in an area where her children can go to ‘good schools’, but living beyond their means makes the hardships they face even more difficult. Rico’s mother is unable to pay the rent and bills without her daughter’s earnings, so Rico has let go of her childhood and dreams in order to help support her family.
Rico’s resolve to find the owner of the lottery ticket brings her something she seems to be sorely lacking: friendships, fun, and even a little romance. She enlists the help of one of her classmates: the handsome, rich Zan who is not at all what she was expecting for a privileged, rich boy. A really authentic feeling relationship forms between the two, which is brimming with quick-witted banter, uncertainty and honest revelations. As they cleverly chase clue after clue to track down the lottery ticket, will they be successful, or are they following a dead end?
Another relationship I enjoyed was the heartfelt, genuine friendship which develops between Rico and Jessica, who lives in her complex. Jessica is also living on the breadline, but she shows Rico that her poverty doesn’t need to define her, and that being poor does not mean giving up on your dreams.
Rico is an incredibly likeable character who fights through her feelings of helplessness and desperation to show a resilience, grittiness and protectiveness towards her family that is admirable.
Yes, this is a story about chasing a missing lottery ticket, but I think it’s about so much more than that. It is a story about chasing your dreams, despite the hardships you may face, and having the courage to take a chance on friendships and on yourself. I’m so glad Rico does just this!