Lia's guide to winning the lottery by Keren David

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Frances Lincoln, 2011. ISBN 9781847801913/
(Age: 15+) Recommended.When Lia wins 8 million pounds in the lottery, life starts to change. She begins to wonder whether the problems that she has with her mother will go away now that she has enough money to plan to get her own flat. Raf, the gorgeous boy she has been eying off for months, seems to be interested, but she is a bit troubled that it may be her money and not her personality he is interested in. Her sister suddenly becomes popular and Shazia, her best friend, has been forbidden by her strict father to have anything to do with her money.
What makes this book stand out for me is the humour. There are lots of laughs in this amusing take on a 16 year old winning the lottery. Humour is not often found in books for girls and this is a smile a page as well as a serious look at wealth and whether it makes you happy. I especially liked the little asides about whether Raf, the dark and brooding boy that Lia contrives to sit next to, could be a vampire or a fallen angel, as all the young girls at Lia's school believe. The truth of course is much more painful, as Raf has many real life problems to brood about.
Lia comes across as a very selfish 16-year-old. She argues endlessly with her mother and the sibling rivalry she feels towards her sister Natasha is brought out brilliantly. However, as the impact of her lottery win starts to kick in, with so called friends taking advantage of her, and a hate Facebook page being put up Lia has to work out just what is important in life. It's a coming of age novel, with Lia learning about wealth, what it could do to help poverty stricken communities and discovering the commitment she has to make to get a relationship to work. There are also themes of bullying, teen drinking and sex and the author manages to point out the perils of these without being didactic.
I liked the advice about how to handle winning the lottery that Lia wrote at the beginning of each chapter, even though she often didn't follow it. The information about lottery winners, chances of winning and just what money can do is cleverly put together at the end of the book, giving the reader a chance to think about wealth and the possibility of getting it. In the UK she writes that there is 1 in 13,983,816 chances of winning a jackpot in a standard lottery.
I certainly will be picking up any more books that Keren David writes. I loved her humour and the real world that she created for her characters.
Pat Pledger