You May Already Be a Winner
For fans of Ali Benjamin's The Thing About Jellyfish and Katherine Applegate's Crenshaw comes the humorous and heart aching story of one girl's struggle to keep hope alive for her and her younger sister in Sunny Pines Trailer Park. Twelve-year-old Olivia Hales has a foolproof plan for winning a million dollars so that she and her little sister, Berkeley, can leave behind Sunny Pines Trailer Park.But first she has to: - Fix the swamp cooler and make dinner and put Berkeley to bed because her mom is too busy to do all that - Write another letter to her dad even though he hasn't written back yet - Teach Berk the important stuff, like how to make chalk drawings, because they can't afford day care and Olivia has to stay home from school to watch her - Petition her oddball neighbors for a circus spectacular, because there needs to be something to look forward to at dumb-bum Sunny Pines - Become a super-secret spy to impress her new friend Bart - Enter a minimum of fourteen sweepstakes a day. Who knows? She may already be a winner!Olivia has thought of everything . . . except herself. Who will take care of her when she needs it? Luckily, somewhere deep down between her small intestine and stomach is a tiny voice reminding her that sometimes people can surprise you--and sometimes your family is right next door.

You May Already Be a Winner Details

TitleYou May Already Be a Winner
Author
ReleaseJul 11th, 2017
PublisherDial Books
ISBN-139781101993859
Rating
GenreChildrens, Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction, Fiction, Family

You May Already Be a Winner Review

  • Evelina | AvalinahsBooks
    January 1, 1970
    #Wrong number 1 So at first I thought this book would be easy and fun. A kids' read. Just what I need right now. #Wrong number 2 Then I thought it would be a three star read. #Wrong number 3 I thought it would be pretty forgettable. And that it would probably have typical tropes. Well, guess again. So let's get down to the facts. As you might have surmised, it's a pretty emotionally loaded book. It took me through a rollercoaster of #feels , and although it took a while for it to really ge #Wrong number 1 So at first I thought this book would be easy and fun. A kids' read. Just what I need right now. #Wrong number 2 Then I thought it would be a three star read. #Wrong number 3 I thought it would be pretty forgettable. And that it would probably have typical tropes. Well, guess again. So let's get down to the facts. As you might have surmised, it's a pretty emotionally loaded book. It took me through a rollercoaster of #feels , and although it took a while for it to really get serious, by the end it didn't just make me angry at (some) adults and their horrible decisions, it also made me almost cry. It's definitely a 4 star read, and I loved it. What is the book about? We start by meeting Olivia, who is a 13 year old girl living in a trailer park. It's just the three of them - her, her little sister and their mom. Olivia is every bit as responsible as her parents aren't, so she misses school because there's no one to watch over her little sister. She is actually very cute about it, giving her sister creative lessons she finds on the internet. It's not that her mom is irresponsible, but she's stressed because Olivia's dad left, overworked because she has to care for two children alone and she is just not handling it. Olivia ends up having to make all the hard decisions for her mother, and take on way too much responsibility, basically bringing up her little sister and believing everything is actually her fault. We see the journey of Olivia's family straight into crash and ruin , and we see Olivia break up because it's too heavy for her. It all makes you feel so angry, that it's so unfair, and you can't help thinking there ARE so many children who don't have lunch money, who have to lie for their parents, who have to try to enter as many lotteries that they can so they could maybe survive (hence the name "You May Already Be A Winner"). And the end is just so touching. It's not a bad ending at all, although it seems like there's no way it could end well.I liked this book. I loved seeing such a responsible, loving, kind teen who would do so much for her family. And no heroics - do so much by just doing all the nasty little things most of us don't have to do, like cook, clean, miss school because you're a 13 year old adult raising someone else's child, trying to protect your family from the authorities finding out and not ever exposing your feelings because you're protecting someone else's. Also: no instalove. Just loneliness vs friendship and playing with the cards you're dealt.I have to admit though, I'll have an emotional hangover after this book. It was a ride. If you like reading about teens in tough situations, about growing and maturing, but without the typical self-pitying voice and deep dramatism, this is what you want to read. It's a really down-to-earth story about growth and, well, life. I recommend it to any of my friends who like reading YA and middle grade contemporary.P. S. Just look at that lovely cover.I thank Ann Dee Ellis, Penguin Young Readers Group and NetGalley for providing this book in exchange to an honest review.Read Post On My Blog | My Bookstagram | Bookish Twitter
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  • Medeia Sharif
    January 1, 1970
    I was torn on whether to give this book 3 or 4 stars...so I'll say it's a 3.5. Great voice and characters here, but certain scenes seem rushed or shifting too fast and other scenes have numerous names dropped, adding confusion to the story. This will not prevent me from reading more from the author. NetGalley and the publisher provided a review copy.
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  • Chantele Sedgwick
    January 1, 1970
    Oh, this book broke my heart. I just wanted to hug Olivia and her little sister and tell them they were loved and everything was going to be alright. An emotional and real look at a girl who has lost hope because of decisions her parents have made, but finds out exactly how much people really do care about her in the end.
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  • Maureen
    January 1, 1970
    This was a novel that was hard to read. It was depressing because as a teacher, I am sure I have students in dire straights like Olivia and her family and I just don't know. I think the heart of the novel is learning it is important to learn to trust and rely on others, just as Olivia did. I am appreciative to NetGalley for allowing me to be an early reader in exchange for my fair and honest review. I hope that in reading I will be more cognizant of the "secret" lives of my students.
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  • Lindsey Leavitt
    January 1, 1970
    One of the best middle grades I've read. The voice is magical and the plot perfect. Read this, then hug it.
  • Patty Smith
    January 1, 1970
    Thank You to Netgalley, Penguin Random House and Ann Dee Ellis for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.Do you remember when you were a little kid and you would live in half reality/half fantasy. Your parents are yelling at you and your mind has already taken off, adding all kinds of imaginary events onto what is really happening. I used to do it all the time. I was a perpetual day dreamer, often lost in thought, so I immediately related to Olivia, the main character in “You Thank You to Netgalley, Penguin Random House and Ann Dee Ellis for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.Do you remember when you were a little kid and you would live in half reality/half fantasy. Your parents are yelling at you and your mind has already taken off, adding all kinds of imaginary events onto what is really happening. I used to do it all the time. I was a perpetual day dreamer, often lost in thought, so I immediately related to Olivia, the main character in “You May Already Be A Winner”.But Olivia is a way cooler chick than me. She has a ton of real life responsibilities, more than any kid her age. Her Dad has left her Mom and rumour has it that he left her for another woman. Her mom is barely functioning and has pulled Olivia out of school to watch her little sister Berkeley because Mom can’t afford daycare. Between household chores, cooking dinner and baby-sitting Berkeley, who can blame Olivia for a little day dreaming? Her favourite shows are Iron Chef and Fixer Upper, but she doesn’t spend all day watching TV. She makes sure to get books and workbooks from the library so she and her sister can keep learning. I love that Olivia has her day organized like a school day with lists of what “subject” is scheduled when. She would make a great teacher when she grows up! But what Olivia makes sure to do every day is to enter contests. Any kind of contest that she can find on the computer. She wants to win enough money so her mom can quit her job, she can get a phone, they can live in a real house and most importantly maybe their dad would come back home. Then, along comes Bart, a boy her age who doesn’t go to school and works for the FBI. He is on a secret mission. Well, probably not the truth when she sees him at school, discovers his name is not Bart and he doesn’t work for the FBI. But she really likes him. I think this would be a great book for any child (of the appropriate age) to read. Some people found this so sad, heartbreaking, dark and a tear jerker, while I found it realistic. I have taught many a student in this situation, where they aren’t any parents at home and they are responsible for dinner and their siblings. Maybe not to the extent of Olivia’s situation, which is, let’s face it, a children’s services situation, but this is something they can relate to. Also, kids who don’t have a lot, having to go to school with kids who are more privileged, and navigating the social structures is again, something kids can relate to. I also think that it is good for kids who have enough, to read about someone who doesn’t and think about what that means and how their behaviour towards them matters. Kids are not as delicate as we think and can handle a book with serious issues. It has great messages just one being that asking for help is not a bad thing. Another, Olivia is a caretaker and puts the needs of her mom and sister above her own. She has to learn that her needs are important and making sure that she takes care of herself is a great lesson that many adults need to learn. I mean the whole mindfulness movement has become an industry because people are learning that self care matters. Ellis is engaging and manages to speak to these issues with humour and without the preachiness that children’s books often have. It would be a great book to read with any classroom of kids as part of the curriculum. It is also a touching, meaningful, fun, and engaging book that anyone should read!
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  • Geneviève
    January 1, 1970
    Wow! You May Already Be a Winner is such a cute, heartbreaking, funny and comforting read! I loved it from the start until the end. The story is about a 12 year old girl, Olivia, who has to be independent and able to take care of herself and her younger sister, Berkeley, since nobody is. To be able to get through the day, she imagines a world where everything is good. She subscribes to many contests so they can be rich and have an easier life. She seems to think that she has to take care of ever Wow! You May Already Be a Winner is such a cute, heartbreaking, funny and comforting read! I loved it from the start until the end. The story is about a 12 year old girl, Olivia, who has to be independent and able to take care of herself and her younger sister, Berkeley, since nobody is. To be able to get through the day, she imagines a world where everything is good. She subscribes to many contests so they can be rich and have an easier life. She seems to think that she has to take care of everybody, including her mother. Olivia lives in a trailer park home with her mother and sister. On a typical day, she stays home with her sister because their mother cannot afford day care and so, Olivia does not go to school. She tries her best to teach anything to Berkeley. In the meantime, she still writes to her father who is apparently away from home as his job as a park ranger brought him away from them. She meets Bart, a super secret FBI agent who has to spy on one of her neighbour for super secret reasons. She is friends with mostly everybody in the trailer park. But then, she has to go back to school so her mother does not have problems and she has to deal with a lot of new obstacles.Olivia is a brave, strong, naive and imaginative little girl that you want to take in your arms and tell her everything is going to be fine. This was a great YA book, but not just for the teenagers. I bet that a lot of adults like me would enjoy it and the lessons to learn from it.I would like to thank Penguin Random House Canada for the free copy of this book.G-
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  • Lindsey
    January 1, 1970
    Olivia lives in a trailer park with her mom, little sister Berkely and a variety of characters who live nearby and are just as much a part of her family. She deals with missing her absent father by entering as many contests as she can and emailing him frequently. Olivia also makes up scenarios in her head that make her feel better about certain situations and paint her as a hero that she wants to be. The book is full of run on sentences, as we are inside Olivia's head, and she really seems frant Olivia lives in a trailer park with her mom, little sister Berkely and a variety of characters who live nearby and are just as much a part of her family. She deals with missing her absent father by entering as many contests as she can and emailing him frequently. Olivia also makes up scenarios in her head that make her feel better about certain situations and paint her as a hero that she wants to be. The book is full of run on sentences, as we are inside Olivia's head, and she really seems frantic to deal with everything thrown her way. Too much for a 12 year old to be handling, thanks to her messed up family life and a serious lack of communication. I really felt for Olivia and the tough position she was put in by her loving but neglectful mother and absent father. I felt for her little sister Berkely, who would rather stay at home than go to daycare and wants to have a circus. I felt for their friend Bart, who was full of lies but has a good heart. My biggest problem with this book is that because it was from Olivia's point of view and no adult was telling her the truth, it was hard to get a real feel for things that were going on. And I really wish that the resolution had been longer. The issues Olivia and her family are dealing with aren't resolved in 3 pages and a couple sentences. I needed to know more about what was going on on the adult side. It speaks down to the readers assuming that they wouldn't want to know more about how things are going to turn out. Olivia's father, in particular... it's barely explained why he left and why he came back and what he's been up to. Ultimately, it was a well written book with moving characters and storylines and I really enjoyed it, but was let down by the ending. It needed to be longer, or something needed to be cut and more added to the end instead.
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  • Corrie
    January 1, 1970
    * 3.5/5 * I happened to come across this ARC at a library, where they have a couple shelves where people can buy books by donation. Normally, ARCs are not for resale, and I let them know that. I did take the book, as it seemed interesting. Right from the very beginning, Olivia has a voice. A wildly, sometimes somber and morbid, but highly imaginative voice. Olivia is 12. Her sister, Berkeley - Berk - is 5. They live with their Mum, LeAnn at Sunny Pines Trailer Park. Their Dad left the year prior * 3.5/5 * I happened to come across this ARC at a library, where they have a couple shelves where people can buy books by donation. Normally, ARCs are not for resale, and I let them know that. I did take the book, as it seemed interesting. Right from the very beginning, Olivia has a voice. A wildly, sometimes somber and morbid, but highly imaginative voice. Olivia is 12. Her sister, Berkeley - Berk - is 5. They live with their Mum, LeAnn at Sunny Pines Trailer Park. Their Dad left the year prior. They are struggling as a family. And Olivia at 12, is handed some heavy responsibilities. But Olivia has such love and devotion to her sister, and her Mum. She would do anything to help the family. Even by entering as many contests everyday. She meets Bart. Who is also a very interesting character. They befriend each other. Then there is betrayal. Or, rather, what Olivia deems as a betrayal. Olivia breaks down, and runs. I loved how the Ellis portrayed the thoughts of a 12yo, who is dealing with more stuff than she should be. Olivia's inner dialogue is spot on for many her age, with the added weight of trying to keep her family together. My heart ached for her, and her story. The ending did seem a bit rushed to me. But the end result was wonderful. The real message is that family doesn't always need to be blood, and it's okay to ask for help. I would recommend this book.
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  • Heidi
    January 1, 1970
    You May Already be a Winner by Ann Dee Ellis was made available to me as an ARC courtesy of Netgalley and the publisher. The story and characters are engaging and the perspective from a 12 year old precocious girl is well done. Premise: family fallen on hard times, told from the imaginative and caring older daughter's point of view. I felt that there were three very especially touching themes which I most appreciated: that of the older/younger sibling bond (exceptionally well done), the bond of You May Already be a Winner by Ann Dee Ellis was made available to me as an ARC courtesy of Netgalley and the publisher. The story and characters are engaging and the perspective from a 12 year old precocious girl is well done. Premise: family fallen on hard times, told from the imaginative and caring older daughter's point of view. I felt that there were three very especially touching themes which I most appreciated: that of the older/younger sibling bond (exceptionally well done), the bond of friendship and community (middle schoolers, adults, neighbors in a mobile home park), and finally, the theme of the benefit of humility against the hubris of arrogance or denial. Surprisingly as a mother, I found myself very much identifying with the two middle school protagonists at different times. That in itself, was a treat. Really well done little gem that I will recommend to my 14 and 12 year old daughters. I teared up at the end!
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  • K.L. Beckmeyer
    January 1, 1970
    Quite frankly, I love it. I love Olivia.The write up for this book should be scraped, it doesn't do it justice. Olivia Hale is an older sister who feels responsible for everything. Olivia Hale is trying to keep her family together and convince herself that everything is going to be okay. Olivia Hale is really, truly 12, and will teach you life lessons without ever preaching a word. Olivia Hale is about to find out who her friends and family are, and you'll love going along for the ride.
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  • Josie Stewart
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to NetGallery for this ARC. Loved the stream of thinking free style writing. The characters felt very real and you can't help but pull for Olivia and her sister and her new best friend as they deal with family changes. The author really gave me sense of hope and community as well.
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  • Alicia
    January 1, 1970
    A beautiful and hard story. My favorite kind. And while I'm reading more middle grade than I have ever before, I have an issue with pat endings. I am a proponent of realistic albeit unfortunate endings because they need to feel authentic and ultimately Ellis resolved the book with readers understanding the Olivia would "be okay" now that there's a semblance of a family back together where everyone has had time to heal in some way. The premise is that Olivia has had adulthood thrust upon her when A beautiful and hard story. My favorite kind. And while I'm reading more middle grade than I have ever before, I have an issue with pat endings. I am a proponent of realistic albeit unfortunate endings because they need to feel authentic and ultimately Ellis resolved the book with readers understanding the Olivia would "be okay" now that there's a semblance of a family back together where everyone has had time to heal in some way. The premise is that Olivia has had adulthood thrust upon her when their father leaves the mother and Olivia's mother relies on Olivia to take care of Berekely. Ultimately, Berkeley doesn't go to daycare and Olivia skips school to care for her while their mother works. Readers know that Mom is suffering from the loss of the husband and we know Olivia is writing to her father who she believes has left (temporarily) and will return if she can just get to him, talk to him, write to him. There's also the everyday life of living in their trailer park which means different things: functional and non-functional relationships, friendship issues, and secrets and drama. Olivia then meets an odd boy who calls himself Bart but whose real name is Harrison that has his own story, but he's not forthcoming with it and Olivia must put together the pieces. She thinks she's in love. It's also revealed that Bart is the one who tells the school that Olivia has been bringing her young sister to school each day (mom can't send her back to a daycare after Berkeley stole and rather than deal with the adult issue, again pushes this to Olivia to handle). She's initially shocked but what it means is that the protection agency has found and brought back their father (who has found himself in Salt Lake City after doing some soul searching and realizing they were married much too young). Still the pressure that Olivia must always look out for her sister is what devastates readers time and time again. After some time with their father, the girls learn that their mother is just a few houses away in the park "finding herself" and the story that she has been feeding her sister about preparing for a circus becomes realized and both mother and father are around (though likely will stay separated). So the resolution where it seems like Olivia gets to understand her parents as individuals and why they separated still seems like wizened knowledge of a much older girl. Yes, she's had to grow up far too quickly in middle school because of her parents' inability to parent, but there's a false expectation that everything will always be okay. Again, I know it's middle grade AND I still loved the book because it hits right at the heart. The matter-of-fact style of Ellis' writing captures the mounting pressure and the mysterious boy and letters to her father and the motif of entering sweepstakes and contests and why she always loves the ones where "you may already be a winner" is absolutely enjoyable. Plus the book looks good naked (love the binding without the dust jacket, simple and elegant!)Pg. 51- "I tell her that. I tell her and then I can't help it, then I start to cry and she holds me tight and we can do it. We can do it just us girls." Pg. 145- "We were in our stupid trailer park where no one's lives ever worked out. The sky wasn't blue. It was filled with clouds." Pg. 256- When the pressure became too muchPg. 265- "Olivia. You have to understand." And I said, "No." Pg. 266- "In that moment I felt exhausted. But mad. But exhausted."Pg. 280- "'I understand you are having some home issues.' I say, 'I understand you have bad hair.' He laughs. I don't laugh. Pg. 330- "Just then, a lady collapsed. And I gave her CPR. And everyone cheered. // No I didn't. I never do anything."
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  • Amy Nicole
    January 1, 1970
    The sarcasm of Raymie Nightingale. The bleak, innocent narration of Room. This is the darkest middle grade book I have ever read. It shattered my heart and it’s not even written to be a tear jerker. The 12-year-old protagonist, Olivia, tells the story in such an innocent, aloof way that is really kind of chilling when you realize the drama that’s going on behind the scenes. As a teacher who has mentored kids like Olivia and who has had to call DHR on behalf of kids like Olivia, I was just horrif The sarcasm of Raymie Nightingale. The bleak, innocent narration of Room. This is the darkest middle grade book I have ever read. It shattered my heart and it’s not even written to be a tear jerker. The 12-year-old protagonist, Olivia, tells the story in such an innocent, aloof way that is really kind of chilling when you realize the drama that’s going on behind the scenes. As a teacher who has mentored kids like Olivia and who has had to call DHR on behalf of kids like Olivia, I was just horrified while reading this book. Olivia and her younger sister Berkley have been abandoned by their dad who tells them that he’s moving to be a park ranger in Bryce Canyon. This leaves them living with their mom who who asks Olivia to skip school to care for Berkley during the day. Olivia plays caretaker, teacher, cook, and entertainer for Berkley as well as handy-woman who fixes up the trailer their family lives in. She also spends her time applying to online sweepstakes, which she loves because they tell her that “You May Already Be a Winner!” and this is the kind of hope Olivia thrives on. When she and Berkley meet a new boy named Bart, Olivia is thrilled to have a new friend and confidant. As the truth about her dad's absence and her mom's neglect are unveiled, Olivia has to learn how to cope. I’m not even sure that I would want a child to read this because it is so realistically dark. I think I’m still processing how I feel about this. I will say that the ending was a let down and felt like it shifted the tone a bit too much. 4.5 starsI was given an ebook from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Crystal
    January 1, 1970
    Sometimes you read a book that leaves your mind as soon as you close it, and sometimes you read a book that you can't stop thinking about long after you've finished it. You May Already Be A Winner is a story that touches on some very difficult topics and has one of those characters that you just can't forget. Olivia is 12 and lives in a trailer park. That may not sound very memorable but Olivia is practically raising her little sister Berkley, she does everything around the house, and is even tr Sometimes you read a book that leaves your mind as soon as you close it, and sometimes you read a book that you can't stop thinking about long after you've finished it. You May Already Be A Winner is a story that touches on some very difficult topics and has one of those characters that you just can't forget. Olivia is 12 and lives in a trailer park. That may not sound very memorable but Olivia is practically raising her little sister Berkley, she does everything around the house, and is even trying not to stay behind because lack of school. Olivia is so unbelievably strong. She should be having fun growing up, not having so many responsibilities! I HATE IT, I HATE IT, I HATE IT! There are so many issues going on at home, but she persists, and most of the time prevails. Bart is one of her escapes, when he's around she can forget about everything and just be a young girl, she can help him spy on her neighbor, and talk about impossible things. I LOVE OLIVIA SO MUCH! I root for her, laugh with her, cry for her. I feel like there is so much truth to this story and I think that's what grabs at me the most! This story absolutely charmed me. It had the perfect combination of characters that were so very different but always there for each other. Olivia and Berkley are two of the most precious characters I have ever read about. This isn't the light hearted book I thought I was going to read, it was so so much more!*A complimentary copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Barbara
    January 1, 1970
    - 4/5. I received a free book of this book from the publisher via a Goodreads giveaway."You May Already Be a Winner" tells the story of thirteen year old Olivia, a young girl with a wild imagination living in Sunny Pines trailer park. After her dad leaves the family (just temporarily, of course, to work as a park ranger), Olivia's mom struggles as a single parent and leaves Olivia with the responsibility of caring for her five year old sister, Berkley. Frequently letting her imagination get the - 4/5. I received a free book of this book from the publisher via a Goodreads giveaway."You May Already Be a Winner" tells the story of thirteen year old Olivia, a young girl with a wild imagination living in Sunny Pines trailer park. After her dad leaves the family (just temporarily, of course, to work as a park ranger), Olivia's mom struggles as a single parent and leaves Olivia with the responsibility of caring for her five year old sister, Berkley. Frequently letting her imagination get the better of her, Olivia dreams of winning the lottery and enters hundreds of giveaway contests per day; as well, she allows Berkley to do the same by planning their trailer park circus extravaganza.While this book is supposedly listed as middle grade, it deals with so much emotional adult content that I was blown away. The author explores very real issues of poverty and neglect while perfectly capturing the innocence and voice of a thirteen year old. The narrative was a risky one and could have easily felt inauthentic, but the author nailed it.Furthermore, Olivia is a great main character. She is a strong willed, independent young teenager dealing with so much more than she should have to at home, and with school bullying issues on top of that. I found her perfectly heartbreaking and heartwarming.Finally, the author does a great job with the secondary characters. While Olivia's parents were terrible and neglectful, the author manages to show Olivia's mother's struggles again through Olivia's somewhat naive eyes. On top of that, the various other characters in the trailer park (Melanie, Delilah, etc.) are enjoyable additions. Overall, this book surprised me with its depth and emotion and I would absolutely recommend it to other readers.
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  • Sherry Guice
    January 1, 1970
    A very good book for middle school readers; it may be confusing for younger or struggling readers because the main character and narrator tells lies to help her cope with her current life--father gone, mother struggling to keep everything together. This book would be a good introduction to unreliable narrators. It is a bit long, but worth reading.
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  • Patrick
    January 1, 1970
    Olivia is trying to keep it together for her family. Taking care of little sister Berk. Helping her mother out because she can't seem to do it on her own. Writing to her father that is away and doesn't write back. Plus entering all the contests she can to win big time! Enjoyable audio book!
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  • Michelle
    January 1, 1970
    Olivia is an easy character to cheer for. Everything I want to say about her would be a spoiler. Just read it. You won't be sorry.
  • Jessica Taskinen
    January 1, 1970
    Olivia Hales lives in Sunny Pines Trailer Park, but she dreams of life outside the bounds of the trailer park. She wants to turn time back to the days when her family was all together. Her love for her family abounds, demonstrated by the various ways she takes care of her mom and sister. In her mind's eye, money could solve their multitude of problems, so, at twelve, Olivia has found the solution. She just needs to win big; that way she could really turn the life of her family around. Very deter Olivia Hales lives in Sunny Pines Trailer Park, but she dreams of life outside the bounds of the trailer park. She wants to turn time back to the days when her family was all together. Her love for her family abounds, demonstrated by the various ways she takes care of her mom and sister. In her mind's eye, money could solve their multitude of problems, so, at twelve, Olivia has found the solution. She just needs to win big; that way she could really turn the life of her family around. Very determined, Olivia enters every sweepstakes she can get hands on. She spends her days filling out entry forms, babysitting her younger sister, Berkeley, and dreaming of the day when their father will come back into their lives. Olivia is a quite prolific day dreamer, spending lazy days laying on the trampoline with Berkeley and their new friend, and super-secret spy, Bart. Always longing for something more, Olivia's adventure may take her far from her front door before she realizes what she already has.Ann Dee Ellis' You May Already Be a Winner is about finding joy right where you are. It is a story about having eyes to see what is good in your circumstances and recognizing friendship in those who surround you... especially when life doesn't look exactly like you want it to. Because of her family's situation, Olivia is forced to grow up too soon, and like too many of us, she is blind to the blessings that surround her. In my opinion, this book is a great jumping off point for meaningful conversations about life and relationships. The author gives us an open door to see what Olivia is thinking and feeling and entertains topics like feeling abandoned, unfulfilled longings, true friendship, and love. With an engaging and interesting plot line and a few quirky characters, this story should engage most younger readers who like to use their imagination and enjoy seeing life through someone else's eyes. Yet at the same time, it isn't a once and done story. The characters, their struggles, and their triumphs will stick with you... and maybe taking this journey with Olivia will help you open your eyes to the friendships and blessings just outside your front door.Thank you to Dial Books and NetGalley for an ARC of You May Already Be a Winner; all opinions above are my own.
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  • Summer
    January 1, 1970
    This book had a lot of potential. These were relatable characters dealing with relatable issues. Unfortunately, I feel it missed the mark for the target audience. The author's tendency to have Olivia "daydream" crazy scenarios but not to give the reader an indicator of what was real life and what was fantasied was a huge mistake. If I gave my students a comprehension quiz at the end, only my most advanced classroom readers would be able to decipher what she was making up. I wanted to like this b This book had a lot of potential. These were relatable characters dealing with relatable issues. Unfortunately, I feel it missed the mark for the target audience. The author's tendency to have Olivia "daydream" crazy scenarios but not to give the reader an indicator of what was real life and what was fantasied was a huge mistake. If I gave my students a comprehension quiz at the end, only my most advanced classroom readers would be able to decipher what she was making up. I wanted to like this book but just didn't.
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  • Lisa
    January 1, 1970
    This was a quick read and had some enjoyable parts, but I feel like it would be confusing and emotionally heavy for the target audience.
  • Lynley
    January 1, 1970
    This is the first book I've read by this author. *You May Already Be A Winner* reminds me of an American Jacqueline Wilson book. The mother is as flawed as the one in *The Illustrated Mum*. Except in this book I couldn't work out the mother's motivation. Her reason for keeping her children out of school and denying them basic needs seemed to be about pride, and worrying that people would think she was poor. This felt very early 20th century to me. Are there really people in modern America who wo This is the first book I've read by this author. *You May Already Be A Winner* reminds me of an American Jacqueline Wilson book. The mother is as flawed as the one in *The Illustrated Mum*. Except in this book I couldn't work out the mother's motivation. Her reason for keeping her children out of school and denying them basic needs seemed to be about pride, and worrying that people would think she was poor. This felt very early 20th century to me. Are there really people in modern America who would turn down help for their children out of pride? Government help, no less? In an environment where the government has been screwing poor people over for decades?I doubt a child reader would give the politics of that much thought. But it really tripped me up. There must be more to the mother's story which wasn't on the page.I found the voice interesting. This is a 13-year-old main character who comes across more like a 10-year-old. Is this because the book is aimed at 10-year-old readers? Swearing such as 'dumb bum' get this book past the gatekeepers of children's literature, but contribute to the much younger sounding voice. (Dumb bum is something a 3-year-old might say.) Much use is made of repetition, and lengthy, circuitous sentences reminiscent of a 7-year-old trying to tell a story but getting so worked up about things they can't keep their story straight. The 13-year-olds I know don't speak at all like this, but then, I don't know how American kids are.I'm a bit sick of MG stories with children who pine after their terrible parents for the entire story. A subcategory of dramatic irony -- the reader can see exactly how terrible the parents are, but the children in the book cannot. Again, slightly at odds with a 13-year-old. If you can put up with this pining and letter-writing for the length of the entire story, you'll stick around to learn that Olivia does have her epiphany -- she realises her father is a pretty terrible person and it's not worth pinning her hopes on him because he'll only leave again. The mother is treated with a bit more tenderness by the author, with her about to start on a course of therapy, presumably to become a better mother. The father's possible girlfriend is not -- described only as 'the redhead'. Oh how I love it when hair colour metonymically represents an entire woman. It's interesting what we think it's okay to expose middle grade readers to. Nothing worse than dumb bum. (And 'retard' at one point). But sexism as used in the real world is okay. This is why I have no time for publishers removing naturalistic swearing from middle grade fiction.
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  • Jana
    January 1, 1970
    I had the opportunity to read a digital ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a review. This middle grade novel taps into the stress that so many young people have placed on their shoulders by the inability of their families to manage their households. When money issues, jobs, and daycare problems become the responsibility of adolescent children, it affects every aspect of their lives - especially school. Unfortunately, many kids are placed in these circumstances, where they are forced I had the opportunity to read a digital ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a review. This middle grade novel taps into the stress that so many young people have placed on their shoulders by the inability of their families to manage their households. When money issues, jobs, and daycare problems become the responsibility of adolescent children, it affects every aspect of their lives - especially school. Unfortunately, many kids are placed in these circumstances, where they are forced to take care of themselves and younger siblings and become the “adults” of the family far too soon. I believe that many of these kids will definitely be able to relate to this story.The plot and style of this book reminds me a lot of the book Death By Toilet Paper by Donna Gephart. In Gephart’s book, Benjamin is a seventh grader who’s coping with the death of his father, his mother’s financial problems, and his ailing grandfather. Benjamin is constantly entering contests and sweepstakes with hopes of winning a big prize that would help his family be able to stay in their apartment.In You May Already Be a Winner, Olivia is a sixth grader dealing with a multitude of problems caused by the adults in her life, and their inability to get their act together. Her father left the family in the past year, her mother works long hours as a maid, and Olivia frequently is called upon to stay home from school to take care of her younger sister, Berkeley. Olivia enters as many online contests as she can, with hopes of winning big and lifting her family out of their circumstances. The characters certainly grabbed ahold of me and my heart just ached as I read this story. Through the years, I’ve worked with many kids that have to grow up way too quickly. Kids should be able to be kids and focus on school, friends, and fun and not have to spend their time worrying about whether their families will have food or a home. I think that this will be a book that will resonate with lots of readers. I think it's a great book to have in upper elementary and middle school classroom libraries.
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  • Ms. Yingling
    January 1, 1970
    Copy provided by the publisherOlivia's family lives in a trailer park and has been struggling ever since her father walked out. Her younger sister, Berkeley, is unable to go to child care because she's had a cough, and since their mother needs to go to work, Olivia has been staying home from school. She is very conscientious about making sure her sister does school work, plays outside, and has her meals, but it's not an ideal situation. Eventually, the school demands that Olivia goes back. She's Copy provided by the publisherOlivia's family lives in a trailer park and has been struggling ever since her father walked out. Her younger sister, Berkeley, is unable to go to child care because she's had a cough, and since their mother needs to go to work, Olivia has been staying home from school. She is very conscientious about making sure her sister does school work, plays outside, and has her meals, but it's not an ideal situation. Eventually, the school demands that Olivia goes back. She's not thrilled with the idea, especially since she has met a boy, Bart, who has been hanging around the park. Olivia writes letters to her father, whom she believes is working at a national park, but doesn't hear back from him. It's tough to go back to school, but even tougher when her mother wants her to take Berkeley to school with her. She does this successfully for a few days, hiding her in a broom closet with activities and food, but eventually the girls are found out. Social Services finds their father and sends their mother away, and things slowly return to a new normal.Strengths: This was an intriguing book, and my readers enjoy stories of young people on their own, trying to make up for dysfunction parenting. The stories of Jacqueline Wilson, especially Lily Alone,Castelman's Sara, Lost and Found, Connor's Waiting For Normal, and even Tanaka's disturbing Nobody Knows are all popular in my library. The family problems were realistic, and Olivia tried her best to handle her circumstances. I enjoyed the neighborhood, especially since it seemed very much like any other neighborhood where residents know each other. My grandparents lived in Countryside Estates near Ravenna, Ohio for several years. Weaknesses: At almost 350 pages, this is a bit on the long side. Since Olivia's rich imaginary life is somewhat confusing (especially at the beginning of the book), I think the story would have been stronger without her daydreams. What I really think: No one dies! The cover and title of this one are both strong, and I think this one will see steady circulation.
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  • Suzanne
    January 1, 1970
    Olivia is a character that is full of life, which is a funny thing since she begins her story with, "One day I sunk to the bottom of the pool and died." It turns out that she did not die, but she does have very vivid daydreams. The daydreams are a way to escape from the unpleasant parts of her life, things like having to stay home from school and watch Berk, cleaning the trailer and fixing dinner because her mom comes home too tired to do it, or writing emails to her father that are never answer Olivia is a character that is full of life, which is a funny thing since she begins her story with, "One day I sunk to the bottom of the pool and died." It turns out that she did not die, but she does have very vivid daydreams. The daydreams are a way to escape from the unpleasant parts of her life, things like having to stay home from school and watch Berk, cleaning the trailer and fixing dinner because her mom comes home too tired to do it, or writing emails to her father that are never answered. Olivia, her mother, and her sister Berkeley live in Sunny Pines, "a trailer park attached to a KOA." Olivia becomes determined to offer Berk something better, so she enters online contests, as many as she can find. The sweepstakes entries are another coping mechanism to deal with missing her father, the loss of her best friend, having to stay home from school, and all the other negative circumstances in her life.Along with Olivia, we see her neighbors and learn their stories, too. We also meet her eccentric friend, Bart. Can he really be an agent for the FBI doing surveillance in Sunny Pines? That is only one question we try to find the answer to as the story unfolds. We also wonder if her father is really off helping the rangers in Bryce Canyon and when child & family services will intervene in their lives. Sixth graders can't just stop coming to school without local agencies getting involved. And we wonder, just as Olivia does, what will happen when their situation is discovered.The setting and characters are full of realistic details, and we can recognize how easily a family could wind up in the same condition as Olivia's. We laugh at her daydreams of heroically fighting fires or receiving the kiss of life from the life guard, but we also understand that we are laughing to keep from crying over her life. This is a strong piece of realistic fiction that showcases a memorable character. Fans of See You in the Cosmos might enjoy Olivia's tale.I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.
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  • Miriam
    January 1, 1970
    This book is about a girl named Olivia who is a lot like any other girl. She is full of hopes and dreams and longs for adventure and romance. Unfortunately, her home is full of some problems, such as her father is gone, and won't answer any of Olivia's emails. Not only that, but her mother works all the time, and refuses to accept any charity or do anything government funded. Olivia is told to stay home and watch her little sister, who can't go to daycare because they can't afford it. this book This book is about a girl named Olivia who is a lot like any other girl. She is full of hopes and dreams and longs for adventure and romance. Unfortunately, her home is full of some problems, such as her father is gone, and won't answer any of Olivia's emails. Not only that, but her mother works all the time, and refuses to accept any charity or do anything government funded. Olivia is told to stay home and watch her little sister, who can't go to daycare because they can't afford it. this book allows you to follow a young girl and her much used imagination on an unpredicted journey to the realisation that everyone is a winner. I can relate a lot to Olivia because I too have a much used imagination, and use it in very similar ways as she does. To truly understand us both, you would have to enter our heads, and realise to true wonders of each individual separately. And also like her, I don't ever do what I imagine myself doing, or what I wish I could do. I did like this book. It opened my eyes to how my life could have been. The author did a really good job creating the characters. I do wish that she had better explained why some of the other people acted as they did. I also would have liked her to have gone into more of why she chose the title she did. It seemed as though the book was based on the title rather then the title being based on the book. I would recommend this book to any young girl who has dreams she wishes would come to life. Anyone who has ever hoped for something or has longed for something to come true. Anyone who has had struggled with family and friends. These people are the ones who will truly be able to realise the true beauty of this book. I read 100% of this book.
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  • Rachael
    January 1, 1970
    All Olivia knows is life inside the Sunny Pines Trailer Park. She can tell you all about her neighbors, as she sits outside with her younger sister nearly every day on the trampoline left by the people next door. Olivia is much older than her twelve years of life because she is faced with caring for her sister, and herself, while her mother works long hours barely getting by. Their father abandoned them and throughout much of the story, Olivia is in denial about him really being gone simply beca All Olivia knows is life inside the Sunny Pines Trailer Park. She can tell you all about her neighbors, as she sits outside with her younger sister nearly every day on the trampoline left by the people next door. Olivia is much older than her twelve years of life because she is faced with caring for her sister, and herself, while her mother works long hours barely getting by. Their father abandoned them and throughout much of the story, Olivia is in denial about him really being gone simply because he didn't want to be a part of their life any longer. Ann Dee Ellis does a wonderful job of capturing you and bringing you in to the story through Olivia's eyes. Olivia loves to daydream; you'll often find her mind wandering to an alternate ending of what she is narrating to you, the reader. True to Olivia's hopeful personality, she spends time each day entering online contests in hopes of winning big, changing her life forever. You also learn more about the inner workings and feelings of Olivia through emails sent to her father almost daily, where she makes light of the situations she finds herself in, such as being unable to attend school because her mother isn't sending her sister to daycare or having to hide her sister in a supply closet at school when the state forces her mother to send Olivia back to school. She even hides her disappointment about the boy she meets, Bart, not coming back to visit them. However, as much as Olivia wants to pretend things really aren't as difficult as they appear to be, as the story progresses, things happen to Olivia that force her to face reality, but ultimately show her that she is content with the life that she has. Readers of One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt, See You at Harry's by Jo Knowles, or Love Aubrey by Suzanne Le Fleur, will also enjoy this book. Recommended for grades 5-8.
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  • Matthew
    January 1, 1970
    Review copy provided by NetGalleyThis was one of those books that wasn't so much meant to be enjoyed as it was to be experienced, and probably discussed. Told in an often-rambling, stream-of-consciousness style and revolving around the life of an adolescent girl whose family life is coming apart at the seams, this was a tough story to want to read. It portrayed a bad situation honestly, with all the problems blossoming way beyond what the main character was prepared to handle. Virtually no one i Review copy provided by NetGalleyThis was one of those books that wasn't so much meant to be enjoyed as it was to be experienced, and probably discussed. Told in an often-rambling, stream-of-consciousness style and revolving around the life of an adolescent girl whose family life is coming apart at the seams, this was a tough story to want to read. It portrayed a bad situation honestly, with all the problems blossoming way beyond what the main character was prepared to handle. Virtually no one in the book was particularly together when you got right down to it. Dysfunction was kind of the norm. Even the characters that she liked were dishonest and/or possessing an unpredictable temper.It's the kind of book that adults will look at, because they have an interest in child welfare, but not the kind of book that a kid will pick off of the shelf on their own. If it were recommended to the right reader, I can see reading this as almost therapeutic, though many potential readers would probably be distracted by the writing style. At times, it's nearly impossible to tell when the narrative has shifted from reality to the imaginary, which is fitting as at times the main character has trouble keeping track of the difference herself.Still, this is not one of those books where there is a clearly understood problem that the main character is working to solve. The problem might be clear to the reader, but for the protagonist there are abundant layers of denial and naivety to work through that almost brings the entire experience to a standstill.Not my favorite book, but I imagine that in the pantheon of YA, it'll find its niche audience.
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  • Amy
    January 1, 1970
    This book was so much more than I thought it was going to be. I sat down to start it and I didn't really get back up until it was over. I didn't know that I would be so invested in Olivia's life, or care so much about her younger sister Berkeley, or be so hurt when everything seemed to be going against them. I didn't know I would be SO MAD at her parents, so frustrated with her mother, so dumbfounded by her father. In short, I didn't know my heart would hurt so much reading this, but I am oh so This book was so much more than I thought it was going to be. I sat down to start it and I didn't really get back up until it was over. I didn't know that I would be so invested in Olivia's life, or care so much about her younger sister Berkeley, or be so hurt when everything seemed to be going against them. I didn't know I would be SO MAD at her parents, so frustrated with her mother, so dumbfounded by her father. In short, I didn't know my heart would hurt so much reading this, but I am oh so glad I picked it up. Olivia lives with her younger sister and her mom in a trailer park. Her father left almost a year ago, and even though Olivia writes to him, she never gets any response. Her mother is working two jobs and there still isn't always enough money for things, like daycare. So Olivia has been staying home from school to take care of her younger sister. That has to end though, once the school calls and threatens her mom. Forced with no good options, Olivia tries to do the best she can to take care of her sister, because that is all she ever does. She watches her, she reads her stories, she teaches her lessons, she tries to do schoolwork with her, and she makes sure she has something to look forward to. Even if that something is a made up circus that Olivia says the community is going to host in a few weeks. Of course, Olivia can't keep up with all of this, AND going to school, AND watching her neighbor for her new sort-of boyfriend, AND trying to find her dad. Something has to give. And it might just be Olivia herself.Highly recommend. Very emotional and a look at life that not all of our students get to see. Recommended for grades 6 through 9.
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