Seventeen-year-old Jane Belleweather has just won $58 million in the Wisconsin lottery. It’s a life-changing amount of money that could lift Jane out of poverty and jump-start her dreams of becoming an oceanographer. Unfortunately, because Jane is a minor, she can’t come forward to collect the prize.
Jane could sign over the winning ticket to her mother, but she fears the money would only exacerbate the severe hoarding addiction her mom developed in the wake of her father’s death. Jane also considers asking her ex-boyfriend, Holden, to claim the prize. But he’s been a grade-A jerk ever since he got back from summer camp, and she’s not sure he would actually give her the money. All the while, Jane’s best friend, Brandon, a budding investigative reporter, has vowed to uncover the identity of the winner by any means necessary, complicating Jane’s attempts to conceal the truth. Ultimately, Jane must decide if she will be better off with money or without it.
Jamie Pacton’s second novel, Lucky Girl, explores the myriad ways money can change people. When the winning ticket is announced, everyone ponders what they would do with such an enormous windfall, but few consider the risks associated with newfound wealth. Eventually Jane learns of the tragedies that often befall lottery winners, their lives so frequently torn apart—and in some cases ended—by the greed and envy of those around them, and this possible fate makes her decision even more complicated.
The amount of money that can change someone needn’t be enormous, as Pacton skillfully reveals through Jane’s relationship with Holden. After spending a summer surrounded by rich kids at camp, Holden has suddenly become resentful of his middle-class upbringing. His dreams of wealth supersede his compassion toward Jane, whose situation at home is difficult. She’s often deprived of food and sleep due to her mom’s mental illness. Yet Jane remains kind, self-assured and determined in the face of hardship.
Readers who think they know exactly what they’d do if millions of dollars landed in their lap will think again after reading Pacton’s thoughtful novel.