Nic Stone is one of those authors I’ve read all of their books so far. I was so thrilled when I found an ARC of Jackpot at my local bookstore and knew I had to read it! Jackpot revolves around the question of what would we do if we won the lottery. But Stone takes two characters, Rico and Zan, and introduces their complex lives, Rico’s poverty, and Zan’s family expectations.
Meet Rico: high school senior and afternoon-shift cashier at the Gas ‘n’ Go, who after school and work races home to take care of her younger brother. Every. Single. Day. When Rico sells a jackpot-winning lotto ticket, she thinks maybe her luck will finally change, but only if she–with some assistance from her popular and wildly rich classmate Zan–can find the ticket holder who hasn’t claimed the prize. But what happens when have and have-nots collide? Will this investigative duo unite…or divide?
Jackpot is a story about dreams, class privilege, family, and expectations. It’s about the impact of an object. The stories and opportunities it could tell. Taking the question of, “If I had a million dollars” Stone adds the realism to that wish. Rico struggles while feeling responsible for the livelihood of her family. All while missing out on friends, a social life, and the freedom of choices that her peers have – especially as most come from quite privileged backgrounds.
Jackpot is a story about a ticket. A lifeline. A piece of paper that represents possibility. It’s a story that shows that nothing is ever as simple as it seems on the outside, as money or the possessions we have. That behind the money can be the boundaries of freedom. While I loved Zan’s character, Rico’s story and narration is what propels the story forward. It doesn’t seem to matter what Rico wants, as she is forced to make sacrifices left and right. Stone includes chapters from the perspectives of inanimate objects – which I geeked out about – and these just bring home the theme of these objects as witnesses and hidden secrets.
No one has it all together and the money represents what we could do with that sense of freedom. That lifeline. Jackpot is wonderfully complex and as I’m writing this review, I have even more questions. What do Rico and Zan mean to each other? In many ways, they represent a person in their lives whose sudden presence forces them to reconsider their own life. Bound by this lottery ticket, what does it represent for each of them? When we live for other people, we forget ourselves and what we need, the dreams that should fuel us.