cover image Jackpot


Nic Stone. Crown, $17.99 (368p) ISBN 978-1-984829-62-7

On Christmas Eve, Gas ’n’ Go employee Rico Danger, 17, sells two lottery tickets to a woman with memory troubles. After Rico realizes that one of them may be worth $106 million, she begins obsessing about the winning ticket’s whereabouts. Rico’s mother works too much, mismanages her meager earnings, and refuses to go on Medicaid; Rico handles the family’s finances and works double shifts to make rent; and her little brother keeps getting sick. When nobody claims the jackpot after several days, Rico enlists classmate Zan Macklin, a wealthy computer whiz, to help her track down the customer. As they work together, she and Zan careen toward a romance layered with intersectional issues: multiethnic Rico is believably resentful about her family’s situation; Zan, part white and part Latinx, is often oblivious to his privilege and high-handed with his wealth; and neither believes they have much choice for their future. Interstitials by objects (“A Word from the Right Ticket”) occasionally disrupt the first-person narration, and the primary relationship suffers from an insufficiently characterized male lead. But Stone (Odd One Out) authentically portrays the precarious, terrifying act of living with far less than is needed to survive, and its financial and emotional fallout. Ages 14–up. [em](Oct.) [/em]