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The Magic Of Money

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.

Happy Reading

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Sure To Be A Favorite

The Heroines, by Eileen Favorite, has been sitting on my bookshelf for months. I finally blew the dust off and cracked the cover for the first time. I found this book at the dollar store for the price you would pay for a book at a garage sale. It was well worth every penny, all 107 of them. I’ve heard it said that you can’t judge a book by its cover, so I guess you also can’t judge one based on where you bought it.  I was surprised by how good it was. It quickly became one of my favorite books.

The story is about 13-year-old Penny Entwhistle, a rebellious, physically awkward girl who has a typical love/hate relationship with her mother who runs a bed and breakfast. Her teen angst seems typical at first, but her relationship issues with her mother stem from the attention her mother gives to the inn’s guest—Madame Bovary, Scarlet O’ Hara, and Catharine Earnshaw, to name a few. If the names sound familiar, it’s because they are all heroines from novels who arrive at the inn to take a break from their stories. They sip tea, whine, and swoon until they return to their own plots. For the most part, Penny stays out of their lives, because interfering with the heroines could change their stories, but when one heroine, Deirdre, lingers too long, Penny becomes jealous of the attention her mother gives her and decides to get rid of her. So Penny embarks on a journey almost as tragic as the heroines’ stories.

The novel has appearances from some of literature’s greatest leading ladies. There was one heroine in particular that I wished had stayed at the inn, Elizabeth Bennet from  Pride and Prejudice,  but there is a funny scene with Scarlett O’ Hara—probably one of the most dramatic heroines of all time.

For those of us who don’t like to wait for the story to get going, the plot starts promptly on page seven. The story cuts right to the chase—a chase in the woods that is. By page 72, we find our main character in a psych ward. There’s never a dull moment, and I was engrossed until the end. I actually don’t care for the end though. The author wraps everything up in an Epilogue, explaining what happened to every character and what happened years later. I hate that.

The storytelling is excellent and the plot itself is one of a kind. I really liked how the author pays attention to sensory detail, describing the smells and sounds and sights in every scene. And the characters and their interactions are so natural and realistic, especially Penny and her mother. I recommend this book, especially to those like me who took literature courses in college. It was pleasantly nostalgic revisiting heroines from great literary works and meeting new ones.

Happy Reading

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