Money is magical: it can be turned into anything you want. A dollar can become a tea or soda; yesterday I turned five dollars into cheesecake; and a while ago, I turned three dollars into a book. I found Breaking the Bank at the bargain section of the bookstore. Yona Zeldis McDonough’s best-selling novel is all about money. Going through a financially difficult time after losing my job, I thought the book’s protagonist might be relatable as she struggles as a single mom to stay afloat. The story is about Mia Saul, a woman whose life takes a downscale turn after her husband divorces her. Things start to look up, at least financially, when a magic ATM machine gives Mia free money. Yes, I’m aware of how corny that sounds, but the story is as modern as it is magical. The characters and their struggles are relatable, the pace is good, and the plot is intriguing enough to make you want to find out what happens next.
On the cover of the book it says, “There’s what money can buy and what it can’t.” I don’t think this is an appropriate theme for the novel. After all, it seemed like money solved a lot of her problems. She is able to buy her daughter Eden’s affection with clothes from Barney’s, become famous, start a college fund, get an awesome job, and move into a great house on East fifth St. Her problems weren’t caused by money. All of her mistakes she makes on her own: getting drunk a lot, sleeping with her ex-husband, constantly arriving late to pick her daughter up from school, not being able to remember the teacher’s name, cheating on her awesome boyfriend with a loser. Of course, her flaws make her more realistic and relatable, and she does have some redeeming qualities: she loves her daughter and gives a lot of the free money from the ATM to people who need it.
Over all, the story is original, frustrating, entertaining, gripping, relatable, and sometimes even corny. I like most of the characters, especially Fred’s tarot card reading mother. I even like the main character, despite the fact that most of her actions make me cringe, but I hate Patrick (the loser she cheats on Fred with). He is probably the worst character in the book. He just serves no purpose, and the story would be better without him.
I don’t think there is a lot money can’t buy. It certainly can buy happiness, as it did for Mia Saul, and only three dollars will buy you this book.