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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

Twelve-year-old Olivia Hales has a foolproof plan for winning a million dollars so that she and her little sister, Berkeley, can leave behind Sunny Pines Trailer Park. But first she has to: · Fix the swamp cooler and make dinner and put Berkeley to bed because her mom is too busy to do all that · Write another letter to her dad even though he hasn’t written back yet · Teach Berk the imp…

You May Already Be a Winner

by Ann Dee Ellis

Overall Book Review:

Ann Dee Ellis is an established YA author; however, she hit her debut middle grade novel out of the park! Ellis writes in a way that takes you back to when you were that age as her characters think and act in the exact same way that is typical for that age. The fears/concerns, altered sense of reality, day dreaming, and naiveté the main character has are so authentic. Her characters face real issues and have real reactions to those situations. I think what I loved the most about the book was that things weren’t picture perfect. Instead, they were messy and complicated – just like real life. 

This book was a page turner and is a perfect summer read. It is predominately for a female reader; however, there is a leading male character who is facing his own challenges. The strong female lead is so trusting and hopeful that things will turn out in the end. This is a book for someone who is facing hard times and wants assurances that even if it doesn’t turn out how they want it to, they turn out.

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Dial Books for Young Readers

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  5 mild obscenities; 2 offensive hand gestures.

Violence/Gore:  Several 2nd hand reports of violence and implied occurrences of violence – mostly in the form of day dreaming. Minor day dream she drowned; adult kicked an animal; group thought someone was murdered and searched for bodies; reference to people who are dead; daydream of death by animal bite; twisted animal; reference to rot and die; reference to being dead before she was born; daydream of drowning by undercurrent; tripped and scraped knee; hero declared legally dead by finding bone; reference to dead grandpa; report of minor assuming her parent wanted to slap her; get shot out of the sky like a bird; rubbing of fish gives one the appearance of death; truck on fire – animal saved; adult kicking property, threatens to fight, destroys radio; daydream of character kicking objects; electric shock therapy mentioned; hypothetically lying in a cave surrounded by deadly scorpions; daydream of minor hitting minor; daydream of parent being arrested for lying; reference to checking to see if a minor has a shotgun – referring to potential violence to others or self; implied burn injury from firecracker; phrase ‘knife to heart’; daydream of lady collapsing with need for CPR; reference to something bad could happen – murder.

Sex/Nudity:  Description of CPR kissing; minors kissing; boy lays next to girl; adult female walking in a bra; adults holding hands; couple feeding each other; minors kissing; first kiss; making out; day dreaming of kissing; adults flirting; implied relationship; daydream dancing and holding hands; rub noses; grabs hand; hug; holding; flirting; romantic kissing; reference to siren.

Mature Subject Matter:

Parent leaving, parent (implied) adultery/relationship, poverty, social worker, adult in recovery.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

Statement of neighbors being drug dealers; adult drinking beer – counting the boxes.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

My favorite books are ones that change me and my perceptions of the world in a significant way. My favorite genre is probably historical fiction with biographies as a close second.