If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know I’m a big fan of Jamie Pacton. I adored The Life and (Medieval Times) of Kit Sweetly so when I was asked to host this exclusive cover reveal, I may have shrieked. Just a little bit. If you loved Kit as much as I did, then get ready to meet Jane!
A hilarious and poignant reflection on what money can and cannot fix.
58,643,129. That’s how many dollars seventeen-year-old Fortuna Jane Belleweather just won in the lotto jackpot. It’s also about how many reasons she has for not coming forward to claim her prize.
Problem #1: Jane is still a minor, and if anyone discovers she bought the ticket underage, she’ll either have to forfeit the ticket, or worse…
Problem #2: Let her hoarder mother cash it. The last thing Jane’s mom needs is millions of dollars to buy more junk. Then…
Problem #3: Jane’s best friend, aspiring journalist Brandon Kim, declares on the news that he’s going to find the lucky winner. It’s one thing to keep her secret from the town, it’s another thing entirely to lie to her best friend. Especially when…
Problem #4: Jane’s ex-boyfriend, Holden, is suddenly back in her life, and he has big ideas about what he’d do with the prize money. As suspicion and jealousy turn neighbor against neighbor, and no good options for cashing the ticket come forward, Jane begins to wonder: Could this much money actually be a bad thing?
Add Lucky Girl to Goodreads!
Pacton does a fabulous job with characters who are relatable, flawed, and endearing. I cannot wait to get to know Jane and see the drama that unfolds. But the bigger question is: are you ready to see the fabulous cover of Lucky Girl?
This fabulous cover was illustrated by the talented Mina Price and designed by Laura Benton. It releases in May 2021 from Page Street YA.
What do most people do when they find out they’ve won the lottery?
Cry? Scream? Jump up and down? Quit their jobs? Call their mom or their best friends?
Or, fun alternate version to all that, they could take my approach and be sitting quietly in math class, chewing on their bottom lip, and trying not to faint.
Hi, yes. My name is Fortuna Jane Belleweather. I’m seventeen; and, I’ve just found out I’ve won a huge lotto jackpot. Like fifty-eight million dollars worth of huge.
I’m freaking out, to say the least.
And, look, okay. I get it.
Nobody feels sorry for lottery winners. I mean, it’s hard to have sympathy for someone who can potentially make all their problems disappear with outrageous amounts money.
BUT, as I’m quickly finding out, in the space between potential winneràto actual winnerà to appearances on “Luxury Lotto Lifestyles,” there’s a Pacific Ocean’s worth of doubt, worry, and fear. There’s also ample space for panic attacks like the one I’m having right now, in the middle of math class.
Outside my classroom’s windows, a brisk October wind howls, making bare oak branches slap against the glass. Inside the classroom, I’m trying to breathe normally and stop my hands from shaking harder than the trees.
I’m failing spectacularly.
In fact, I’m pretty sure I’m about to start some deeply unhinged cackling soon; and, I can feel the laugh sitting like a lump of unswallowed sandwich, stuck in that spot where my collarbones meet. Assuredly, hyena-style laughter during math class is a terrible idea, but at this point, I’ll do anything to decrease the pressure of this absurd fifty-eight million dollar secret before my head actually explodes.
Deep breath in.
Deep breath out.
I count my breaths and think about numbers. Because numbers are concrete and make sense. There’s strength in numbers, right?
Okay, here are some numbers:
For the last five years my mom has played the lotto religiously.
Every week she spends exactly forty-three dollars—a third of her check from working at Sammy’s Storage Solutions—on lotto tickets. The rest of her check barely keeps us alive. Which is sort-of fine because we live in the paid-off house Mom grew up in, and there’s still some money left from my dad’s life insurance.
But, back to numbers: multiply those forty-three dollars by fifty-two weeks then multiply that by five years for a grand total of $11,180 that my mom has spent on the lotto since we moved to Lakesboro.
Which is probably only slightly more than what the guy in front of me in math class spent on hair gel last week.
(More unhinged cackling. Breathe, woman. Breathe).
Okay, right, the numbers. So, $11,180 is approximately five thousand two hundred and forty-five times less than the amount of money I have in my pocket.
And now we’re back to it: the fifty-eight million dollars—or to be more precise $58,642,129 dollars—I have in my pocket. During math class. On what started out as an ordinary Thursday.
All of which is absolutely, entirely, totally, mind-bogglingly absurd.
And all of which I also just found out about three minutes before class when I popped into the bathroom to check the winning lotto numbers on my phone.
Yes, I nearly passed out on the toilet.
And no, I’ve not told anyone yet. But I’m getting to that part.
To say I’m bewildered is like saying you should probably pack a sweater for a trip to Antarctica.
(HAHAHAHAHA. Jokes! At a time like this!)
I think it’s likely I’m in shock because I’m just sitting in class, all casual, with FIFTY-EIGHT MILLION DOLLARS IN MY POCKET.
But, there you have it.
Last night I impulsively bought a ticket with my last dollar. And it won.
I keep making myself say it in my mind: I won the lotto.
I won the lotto. I won the lotto. I won the lotto.
“Fortuna Jane Belleweather,” calls out my math teacher, Ms. Wallace, peering at her attendance sheet. “Are you paying attention?”
Mr. Hairgel in front of me snickers. “Yeah, Tuna, are you paying attention?”
I poke him hard with a pencil eraser, which he probably thinks is flirting now that I’m single again. I’ve worked hard not to learn his name since he also thinks my first name is the funniest thing he’s ever heard. My mom thought naming me ‘Fortuna’ was a smart bet for ensuring me a life of good luck. Maybe she was right given my current lotto winner status, but it also highlights how terrible her judgment is. Seriously. What kid ever wanted a name with the word “tuna” in it?
“It’s Jane,” I remind Ms. Wallace, who likes to deploy our full names as weapons. “And yes. I’m paying attention. We’re talking about paramedics—I mean, ebolas—I mean, parabolas.”
The class laughs. “Care to elaborate?” Ms. Wallace arches a perfectly drawn eyebrow.
“Fourteen,” hisses my best friend, Brandon Kim, from the seat behind me. “The curve of that parabola is fourteen.”
I repeat what he says, and Ms. Wallace goes back to her droning lesson. I whisper thanks to Bran, and go back to feeling like Charlie goddamn Bucket with a pale orange Mega-Wins ticket burning a Bentley-size hole in my pocket.
I still can’t believe I won. I mean what are the odds of that?
Actually, I know the odds because I’ve been covertly Googling since the start of class. There was a one in three hundred million chance I would be the sole winner of last night’s jackpot.
That’s right. One in three hundred million.
Also—according to Google—it’s more likely I’d date a supermodel, get hit by an asteroid, achieve sainthood, and be eaten by a shark all at the same time rather than win the whole jackpot myself.
All of which is something my brain refuses to wrap itself around. I keep thinking about it and then bouncing off the truth of my new found wealth like a kid bopping around in a giant bounce house. Except it’s a lot less fun. Maybe I’m like that kid who keeps falling out of the bounce house and landing on her face. Or the one who keeps slipping and getting pummeled by the other kids. Or whatever.
For perspective: yesterday, I had twenty-four dollars in my bank account. Today, I have fifty-eight million dollars in my pocket.
To keep from having a full-blown panic attack, I doodle a picture of me and my supermodel date swimming in shark-infested waters while an asteroid races towards us. I make sure to include a halo over my head. Supermodel, shark, star, saint. Supermodel, shark, star, saint. The ridiculous combo runs through my head like a mantra.
Fun as that image is, though, my hand shakes as I sketch, sending a wobbly line across the page. I put down my pencil. Here are some other facts I’ve also learned since the start of math class.
Fact 1: Lotto tickets are bearer’s instruments. So, if I want this money, I better make sure I sign this ticket so no one else can cash it.
Fact 2: Even if I sign it, I can’t cash it yet because a minor in the state of Wisconsin can only cash a ticket if it was bought by an adult and given as a gift.
Fact 3: I don’t turn eighteen for another two weeks. But that’s not the big issue since I have one hundred and eighty days to—
“Holy shit!” bursts out Bran. His phone chirps with a series of texts and everyone in the class spins around to look at him. Ms. Wallace stops writing on the whiteboard and turns around, glaring at us all.
“Is there something you’d like to share, Mr. Kim?”
“Yeah! My dad just texted me—Wanda’s Quick-Go Shop sold the winning Mega Wins ticket last night. One person won the full prize of fifty-eight million dollars and my dad says it could be somebody in town!”
Our town is right off the interstate and Wanda’s is one of two convenience stores, so there’s a chance it could’ve been bought by anyone passing through.
But it wasn’t, of course.
I shift lower in my seat, making sure the ticket is deep in my jeans
pocket. I’m going to have to figure out a better solution for keeping it safe, but I certainly can’t pull it out and shove it into my backpack right now.
Everyone in the class starts murmuring. Mr. Hairgel—who is newly eighteen—tells the girl next to him he bought ten Mega Wins tickets at Wanda’s last night. I cringe to think of what he’d spend the prize money on if he had won. Probably a lifetime’s supply of hair products and dude-bro body spray.
All around me, phones come out and everyone begins texting. Ms. Wallace starts to say something about putting phones away, but then she throws up her hands.
“Has anyone claimed the prize yet?” she asks Bran.
“Not yet. My dad says news crews are probably coming in tonight. They’re going to interview people in town, to see if they know anything.”
My hand slips inside my pocket and I run my fingers lightly over the winning ticket again.
It’s all about numbers.
And last night they called mine: 6 28 19 30 82.
But considering the fever pitch the classroom has now reached, I’m not sure this is my lucky day after all.
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About the Author
Jamie Pacton writes all sorts of books: dark, feminist YA fantasy; contemporary YA stories with a funny + geeky bent; funny MG adventure-fantasy; and, even the occasional adult rom-com. She was a Pitch Wars mentee in 2015 and she mentored YA in 2016, 2017, and 2018. She grew up minutes away from the National Storytelling Center in the mountains of East Tennessee; she’s the oldest of ten kids; and, she currently lives in rural Wisconsin with her husband, their two kids, and a dog named Lego.