Lottery Boy

Michael Byrne. Candlewick, $16.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-7636-7996-5
In this adrenaline-charged page-turner, 12-year-old Bully, a homeless runaway in London, discovers a winning lottery ticket tucked into a cherished possession, his last birthday card from his deceased mother. With only five days to collect his prize before the claim expires, Bully needs to find an adult he can trust, because he’s too young to play the lottery. Told primarily from Bully’s viewpoint, the story reveals the world Bully sees, full of “zombies”—adults with “that getting-away look that zombies gave you... if you started trying to talk to them too much like they were human beings”—and menace, exemplified by a man named Janks, who breeds and tortures pit bulls, runs dog fights, “taxes” the homeless, and comes after Bully when he learns of the ticket. Relying on his well-trained dog, military tactics learned from his stepfather, and his own courage and ingenuity, Bully desperately tries to evade Janks’s army of street soldiers, with ever-worsening odds. Occasional kindnesses and acts of genuine compassion soften the impact of the neglect, cruelty, and betrayal Bully negotiates in this gut-wrenching, gripping debut. Ages 12–up. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 12/21/2015
Release date: 03/08/2016
Genre: Children's
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