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on September 7, 2004
When Brit Damian Cunningham talks about any topic, he likes to start with the patron saint of the story. His big brother, Anthony, is into money and investments, but Damian is fascinated by saints. As this story begins, the boys' mother has died. They've moved with their father into a new house and started attending a new school. Dad has instructed Damian to be excellent and he tries very hard to be good, partly because he's afraid his father will vanish, as his mother did, if he fails. To that end, he answers his teacher in class in such long-winded detail or is so "quiet" that his teacher is concerned.

Damian builds a hermitage, or retreat, of cardboard boxes down by the train tracks. There, he has visions of saints. When the saints talk to him, he always asks if they've seen his mother.

England is changing to a new money system, so people are exchanging their old notes for the new "Euros." The boys enjoy watching the trains carrying England's old money off to be destroyed. One night, Damian is in his hermitage, praying. The train thunders past. A bag with millions of the old-fashioned pound notes --- an unbelievable fortune! --- tumbles off the train, crashing into the hermitage. Damian believes it's a direct gift from God in sympathy for the death of his mother.

Damian and Anthony don't tell their father of their sudden wealth out of concern for taxes. They discuss all they can buy: sea monkeys, fancy bikes, cell phones, computer games, houses. They must spend their wealth in 17 days, because when the new money system goes into effect, their notes will be worthless. Life becomes more and more complicated when thieves and police enter the picture.

The brothers treat school kids to soft drinks, and then bribe them for favors. Damian and Anthony buy their classmates' belongings for huge prices. Soon, they're lying to their father about where all their new toys have come from. Damian wryly notes that there's no patron saint of lying.

This book is flat-out amazing --- I've never read anything remotely like it. It manages to be simultaneously funny, horrifying, fantastical, realistic, sad, touching, and shocking. The plot twists are unpredictable, and the characters are believably quirky. A truly excellent read.

--- Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon (terryms2001@yahoo.com)
11 comment|19 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
I think I should begin this review by explaining to you that I'm not exactly an unbiased reader of this title. To be frank, the minute I heard the premise of this book I knew that I would love it. Author Frank Cottrell Boyce could have filled the pages of "Millions" with an unbroken stream of consciousness (appropriate for young readers, of course) and I STILL would have thought this book bloody marvelous. As it happens, "Millions" is well-written in spite of my unrepentant love. Sure it has its ups and downs and there is one plot element that doesn't make a lick of sense, but on the whole Boyce has come up with something truly smart and funny here. As its hero Damian would say, "Quality".

What would you do if you found 229,370 in cash? If it just came falling out of the sky and into your lap, what would you do? If you're like Damian, you've a moral dilemma on your hands. Do you give the money to the poor or do you dig wells in Africa? If you're Damian's older brother Anthony then you're trying to decide whether or invest in real estate or just buy a house upfront. This may all sound like idle speculation, but for Damian and Anthony it's a problem they have to face right now! You see, our story takes place mere days before England is just about to make the change from a pound based system to that of the new Euro. That means that the money that came flying at Damian in a duffle bag thrown from a train has to be spent as quickly as possible before it becomes worthless. Damian's goals tend to be goodhearted, partly because he's obsessed with saints and sainthood. Anthony, however, is more inclined to want to spend the pounds on making more dough. He's a businessman at heart. Whatever their intentions, though, it soon becomes clear that having a lot of money is more difficult that either of them could have anticipated. Especially when the people who threw it from the train in the first place want it back....

Boyce's book is one of the rare children's novels that never hit it big in America but that still got made into a movie. The book has a particularly contemporary feel to it. The gadgets and games mentioned in it (such as plasma televisions) on first glance may date the novel in several years' time. However, when you consider that this is basically a period piece anyway (it takes place at a very particular moment in history) then such excesses are more than justified. Also, Damian constantly mentions a website that you should check out if you get a chance. I wasn't personally able to figure out the games on that site, but it's still worth a chuckle. Where else could you send a friend a saint's ear?

The magical realism in "Millions" (Damian is visited frequently by saints of all types) works well within the story. It rarely jars or falls flat. The sole exception to this, to my mind, was the last visitation Damian receives. I don't want to give anything away, but the moment is unnecessary and reminded me a bit more of that awful movie "Casper" than I would have liked. Another problem with the book comes in the form of the character of Dorothy. A potential girlfriend to the boys' father, she switches back and forth between good and bad without any logic. One moment Damian's having visions of her on a train and the next she's waltzing into the house, clearly not on a train. It's not only confusing, but downright weird and done without much in the way of explanation.

Still, the book's a gem. It's hard to create a likable character like Damian who is so very very good without turning him into an annoying freak of some kind. It is exceedingly easy to write a mean or nasty character. To write a good one can be an excessive challenge. Damian, however, is perfect the way he is. You never resent him and you're always on his side. "Millions" also shows the evils of money as clearly as possible. Consider pairing this with "The Toothpaste Millionaire" by Jean Merrill for some alternating views of children and excessive wealth. Just make sure you read this book first. Though I was pretty certain that I'd love it right from the start, it's probably got more fans out there than anyone could suspect. Incredibly fun.
11 comment|16 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on November 29, 2005
Millions is a book about two brothers and their father that experience life with millions of money. Damian who is one of the brothers was the first to discover the money,who thought the money came from god but it really was a robber that threw it off the train after robbing the bank. Damian and Anthony(the other brother)try to decide how to spend the money, both brothers have differnet ideas on how they should spend it but in the end they tell their father and he decides what to do.

one of my favorite parts in the book Millions is when the boys are at school with all the money and they go out to recess and every kid is trying to sell them anything they had. This is one of my favorite parts in the book because i thought, to be in Damians or Anthonys position would be a lot of fun. Also i thought the way the auther explained this part of the story was very exciting. Another reason why this was my favorite part was bcause it made me think that was spending all that money on junk they diddn't need was the correct way to go? This part caught my attention and i wanted to be in the story and sell my old junk for a good price. Although there was many other interesting parts in the book Milions the part with the boys spending it at school was my top favorite.

i would recommend the book Millions to anyone who wants to read a book full of problem solving and finding solutions when your life could be at risk. Miilions is full of adventure and excitement and if you want to expeirence the thrill of feeling like you are in the story i would pick up this book and start reading! This book helped me in solving problems and trying to find conclusions to any sort of problem. With all the books i read Millions was one of the books i could not put down and stop reading. In conclusion i enjoyed Millions very much and i would recommend this book to anyone, it was fun to read and a great book to talk about and relate to.
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on January 16, 2013
I ordered many copies of this book about 8 years ago and gave them to friends and family. I received positive feedback from everyone including my 60 something husband and my 20-y.o. daughter. I also bought the cd audio book. I just bought another copy for a friend to read. Even though the book is probably written for a pre-teen reader, it is very appropriate for adults and older readers. I find this book to be inspiring especially at the end which is a bit of a surprise.
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on June 12, 2005
This novel was a great read! I chose this book for a unit in English class but soon it was more than a novel, it was an adventure. With every page I got drawn into it, reading more and more. This book is about a young boy named Damian who finds a lot of money just outside from his house when it was said to fall from the sky. The money actually belong to somebody else which made the book also very interesting. The ending was one to remember where it gives you a bad perspective on a good character. The part of the book that was most memorable to me is when Damian prays to god to help him and down falls all of this money. I would recommend this book to anyone the ages 12-16. It is a great novel and definitely is worth the time to read.
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on March 3, 2014
This is about as sweet of a story as you could wish for-but not at all sickly sweet. Nope, this is just plain beautiful and satisfying. I wasn't too keen on the way the 'Mormons' were portrayed- & as I am one, I must mention, they weren't at all authentic. I think he mixes them up with our 'Missionaries' we send out. But that actually gave me a laugh to see the writers perspective. This book also made me want to go dig a well in Africa. Or, better yet, to actually donate to one.
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on June 29, 2012
Extremely funny and well written book about a boy who, following the death of his mother, has become fixated on saints. Sometimes the boy sounds like something of a savant, but all the same the book is extremely funny and a heart warming tale, well told. I very much enjoyed this one.

My daughter, who has just turned 11, has now read and loved this book too. A great one for older children and young adults, but don't leave it just to them. This is too good a book not to share.
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on November 12, 2005
This is an absolute gem of a book. I can't reccomend it highly enough, to readers of all ages. It's sweet, yet powerful, whimsical yet meaningful, fantastical yet so relevent. I couldn't put it down, and was at times brought to tears by the warmth, humour and poignancy. Please read this book! I can't imagine it ever disappointing.
0Comment|5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
I think I should begin this review by explaining to you that I'm not exactly an unbiased reader of this title. To be frank, the minute I heard the premise of this book I knew that I would love it. Author Frank Cottrell Boyce could have filled the pages of "Millions" with an unbroken stream of consciousness (appropriate for young readers, of course) and I STILL would have thought this book bloody marvelous. As it happens, "Millions" is well-written in spite of my unrepentant love. Sure it has its ups and downs and there is one plot element that doesn't make a lick of sense, but on the whole Boyce has come up with something truly smart and funny here. As its hero Damian would say, "Quality".

What would you do if you found 229,370 in cash? If it just came falling out of the sky and into your lap, what would you do? If you're like Damian, you've a moral dilemma on your hands. Do you give the money to the poor or do you dig wells in Africa? If you're Damian's older brother Anthony then you're trying to decide whether or invest in real estate or just buy a house upfront. This may all sound like idle speculation, but for Damian and Anthony it's a problem they have to face right now! You see, our story takes place mere days before England is just about to make the change from a pound based system to that of the new Euro. That means that the money that came flying at Damian in a duffle bag thrown from a train has to be spent as quickly as possible before it becomes worthless. Damian's goals tend to be goodhearted, partly because he's obsessed with saints and sainthood. Anthony, however, is more inclined to want to spend the pounds on making more dough. He's a businessman at heart. Whatever their intentions, though, it soon becomes clear that having a lot of money is more difficult that either of them could have anticipated. Especially when the people who threw it from the train in the first place want it back....

Boyce's book is one of the rare children's novels that never hit it big in America but that still got made into a movie. The book has a particularly contemporary feel to it. The gadgets and games mentioned in it (such as plasma televisions) on first glance may date the novel in several years' time. However, when you consider that this is basically a period piece anyway (it takes place at a very particular moment in history) then such excesses are more than justified. Also, Damian constantly mentions a website that you should check out if you get a chance. I wasn't personally able to figure out the games on that site, but it's still worth a chuckle. Where else could you send a friend a saint's ear?

The magical realism in "Millions" (Damian is visited frequently by saints of all types) works well within the story. It rarely jars or falls flat. The sole exception to this, to my mind, was the last visitation Damian receives. I don't want to give anything away, but the moment is unnecessary and reminded me a bit more of that awful movie "Casper" than I would have liked. Another problem with the book comes in the form of the character of Dorothy. A potential girlfriend to the boys' father, she switches back and forth between good and bad without any logic. One moment Damian's having visions of her on a train and the next she's waltzing into the house, clearly not on a train. It's not only confusing, but downright weird and done without much in the way of explanation.

Still, the book's a gem. It's hard to create a likable character like Damian who is so very very good without turning him into an annoying freak of some kind. It is exceedingly easy to write a mean or nasty character. To write a good one can be an excessive challenge. Damian, however, is perfect the way he is. You never resent him and you're always on his side. "Millions" also shows the evils of money as clearly as possible. Consider pairing this with "The Toothpaste Millionaire" by Jean Merrill for some alternating views of children and excessive wealth. Just make sure you read this book first. Though I was pretty certain that I'd love it right from the start, it's probably got more fans out there than anyone could suspect. Incredibly fun.
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on March 21, 2011
This movie is a magic story of a little boy who has a different take on what he should do in life and how other people should be treated. He finds a million Sterling in a duffle bag which was thrown from a train. He and his brother try to hide the money while they figure out what they will end up doing with it all. The little boy is fascinated with saints and knows every single one of them and what they did to become a saint. It's a very cute foreign film which won some well deserved awards after its release.
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