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Spoils Hardcover – December 10, 2013
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From School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—In this stand-alone companion to Kindred (Knopf, 2011), Leni's family is in trouble. Several years ago they won 22 million dollars in the lottery, but now it has all been spent, except for the million dollar trust fund that Leni will receive when she turns 18 in a few days. She can tell that her parents expect her to give them the money, but as she watches how they spend in anticipation of the windfall, she worries that she really can't solve their problems. Her deeply troubled older sister blames herself for all that is wrong with the family and warns Leni to get rid of the money. An angel named Michael appears and tells Leni to "Fix it." She must figure out what "it" is that she's supposed to fix. Stein's strong writing and well-drawn characters make this titles one of those novels that seem to have it all: a little romance, intrigue, both an angel and a devil, family disaster and love, a strong female character, and a fast -moving, smooth plot. Subtlely infused themes of being careful what you wish for and that money can't buy happiness give the novel an added intensity. The thoughts of characters not directly related to the main plot who dream of how an infusion of money would solve their problems add depth to the story. A satisfying read.—Janet Hilbun, Texas Women's University, Denton, TX
What would you do if your family won millions in the lottery when you were a kid and now all that’s left after their extravagant spending is what’s held in trust for you until your eighteenth birthday—which is next week? Stein, masterful author of complex teen novels in which ethics and Judaism are essential components, proves herself once again in this companion to Kindred (2011). Floridian Leni is a bit younger than Stein’s typical post-high-school protagonists, but she is astute, anguished by her older sister’s news that the lottery was rigged, and just the right character to lend credibility to her discovery of evil at the root of the mess surrounding her family and an angel to help her through it. Romance, money, and mysticism are woven into a satisfying tale. Grades 7-10. --Francisca Goldsmith
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Thinking about what she’ll do with her money she reviews where the rest went: her older brother Eddie spent his on travel and extravagance and now rarely leaves the basement of the mega-mansion their parents built. Her sister Natasha bought a tea shop that struggles to stay afloat even though business appears to be doing well. And her parents? They bought lots of stuff and gave some away to friends and relatives who really needed it. Now they are counting on Leni to turn over her trust fund to them so they can continue leading this lifestyle they’ve become accustomed to for just a little longer.
Leni is resigned to giving up the money, even if it means revising her dreams of college. But when she finds out that Natasha may have made a deal with the devil to win the prize and an angel appears telling her to make it right, she begins to have doubts about what to do. She takes a hard look at what having money has done to her family and struggles to find a solution that may put her family back together.
Even without the devil/angel element, Spoils by Tammar Stein fascinates with its look at how lots and lots of money can change people. Believing they have no reason to earn money ever again, they often make decisions that don’t fit with the values they have lived with in the past. They don’t know how to judge who likes them for their money and who likes them for the people they are.
I recommend Spoils for mother-daughter book clubs with girls aged 15 and up. It can spark interesting discussions on how book club members speculate they would deal with a sudden windfall. It could touch on the presence of real forces of good and evil in the world working to influence people’s minds and hearts. Another big issue to discuss includes figuring out what’s important to you in life and determining how to pursue it.
The author gave me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
I like how this book takes a topic that most of us would welcome (winning the lottery) and looks at it from a much darker side. You can really feel time slipping away as Leni's birthday comes closer and closer and she is faced with a big choice.