Author: Susan Colebank
Published: Dutton, 2009
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Overall Grade: A-
Ever since Regina Shaw's dad died, life has gone downhill. Reggie's mom is gambling away the family's money, they're drowning in debt, Reggie is invisible and failing at school, and is working overtime at her Arizona town's Cashmart. But when the Shaws win the lottery, life takes an unexpected turn for the better: Reggie can now afford whatever she wants, and earns instant popularity at school with the kids who used to ignore her. However, her old friends and new love interest might be driven away, and Reggie's ever-spending mom is hiding more than she owns up to. Money can't buy happiness, but will Reggie be forced to learn the hard way?
My thoughts: I was totally surprised at Cashing In. At first glance, I thought it was going to be a light, cheery chick lit read. Boy, was I wrong. The book is quick and constantly moving, but is filled with deeper meaning and darker concepts. Reggie's mother is a compulsive spender, gambling away every last cent that the family has. Colebank illustrates this in agonizing detail, and readers will be sympathizing for the hardworking Reggie while her seemingly clueless mom draws the family deeper into debt. Because of this, Reggie is failing at school, and questions her future: should she drop out of high school? Will she be working at Cashmart for the rest of her life? A realistic situation, many teens will be able to relate to Reggie's struggles.
Similarly realistic were the well-developed characters: Reggie, her mom, Sarah, Mrs. Bretton, Gabe...Reggie was a strong main character, and her mom was perfectly hate-able: I started loathing her from page one! And, of course, Gabe was simply wonderful as the leading man (boy?) of the story. The plotline was fast-paced and leaves readers with an honest, surprising ending that will have them questioning what really happens. Please, please let there be more for Reggie and Ms. Colebank in YA! And impressing debut.
Must-Read! Check it Out!! Don't Bother