Entertainment

'You May Already Be a Winner' tells of 12-year-old Olivia who has to grow up way too fast

Posted July 7

"YOU MAY ALREADY BE A WINNER," by Ann Dee Ellis, Dial, $16.99, 352 pages (f) (ages 10 and up)

Twelve-year-old Olivia enters every sweepstakes and contest she can get her hands on, hoping one day she'll win a better life for herself, her mom and her little sister, in "You May Already Be a Winner," a middle grade novel written by Ann Dee Ellis.

Olivia constantly daydreams of improvements in every aspect of her life, especially of winning the contests she enters or putting on a real circus for her little sister. However, one of the things she dreams about most often is her father coming back. She writes letters and emails to him constantly, addressed to Bryce Canyon, Utah, where she is pretty sure he lives.

Olivia has to take on a lot of responsibility, and the book shows her trying to hold everything in their lives together to make sure her mother doesn't get in trouble. She also meets a boy named Bart who has his own secrets, and it seems like, after that, nothing will ever be the same.

Though "You May Already Be A Winner" reads easily for the intended middle grade audience, the themes and responsibility on Olivia's shoulders may be hard for that age to relate to. Ellis does a fantastic job portraying Olivia's confusion, frustration and the unconditional love she shows her dysfunctional family. The reader ends up wanting to do anything to help her figure out a solution to the many problems she has taken on.

"You May Already Be a Winner" has no swearing and no described violence, other than a scene where a man gets angry and destroys property. There is also no sex nor sexual innuendo.

Email: toriackerman@gmail.com

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