REVIEW: Bingo Summer by Dawn Malone
by Dawn Malone
Middle Grade Contemporary
On her thirteenth birthday, Summer Haas scratches the lottery ticket her mom tucked into her birthday card and the down-on-their-luck family become instant millionaires. Then the attention gets crazy in their small Illinois town, and the family moves north to ‘disappear’ in the Chicago suburbs. Summer’s new home might as well be on the Moon, it’s so different from where she used to live.
Suddenly, Summer is a candidate for student council, trades her t-shirt and jeans for mall-brand clothes, and throws a party for her entire grade even though she didn’t invite a single guest. Everyone wants Summer to be someone other than herself, including the super-popular Suri who Summer hopes will be her new best friend. There’s Mara who wants Summer to forget about competing with her for third base when softball season comes. And Summer just wants to avoid Dink and Anna even though she has more in common with them than she wants to admit.
But when Mara discovers how Summer’s family made their millions, and threatens to tell the whole school, Summer needs a friend more than ever. Can Summer fit in AND stay true to herself?
3 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS
This was a cute if somewhat formulaic middle grade read. Summer’s life changes instantly when she wins $10 million on a scratch off ticket on her birthday. So much so that her mom packs up Summer and her sister and moves them to the town of Dorrance. Summer has trouble fitting in with the ritzy lifestyle the girls in the town seem to lead, and as a result has trouble making friends. She’s about to learn that having money doesn’t solve all your problems, but can she convince her family of that?
The biggest problem in this book is the one I found so unbelievable. Summer really does not want anyone in her new town to know she won her money on a scratch off. I am not sure why this would be that big of a deal, but maybe it’s because I am an adult. Summer thinks the people of her town knowing she used to be poor would be the peak of embarrassment. Eventually, the truth does come out and Summer learns she was mostly worried for nothing.
While Summer does seem to have problems connecting with the girls in her new school, I don’t think she was trying her best at times either. She’s unnecessarily mean to Dink, and sometimes even when others are trying to strike up a conversation with her, she is standoffish.
At the heart of the book this is a family story, and it was simultaneously cringe inducing and heart warming to see Summer and her mom adapt to life in such a different society. People may laugh at what Summer’s mom is trying to do, but her two daughters are proud of her and that’s really all she needs.
There were a couple of unanswered questions (what was the deal with Frank?), but the story wraps up sweetly and gives you hope that Summer has learned a lot and will be OK wherever life takes her.
About the Author
Dawn Malone is an author and former newspaper reporter. She has written on a wide range of subjects, from a creole cooking school in New Orleans to award-winning irises in a Wisconsin greenhouse. Writing those articles and working other odd jobs over the years – cake assembly line worker, yogurt seller, substitute teacher ? helps her develop the quirky characters that populate her stories. Her work has appeared in theWisconsin State Journal, the Chicken Soup for the Soul Think Positive for Kids edition, and Highlights for Children. When she’s not writing, Dawn loves hiking when someone else carries her backpack. She lives in central Illinois.
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