Cashing In by Susan Colebank (November 12th 2009—Dutton)
Grade: 2.5 stars out of 5
Summary: “There are some problems even winning the lottery can’t fix.
With as many hours as Reggie Shaw puts in at the Cashmart, it’s no wonder that her grades and her friendships are slipping. Worst of all, Reggie’s mother’s inability to keep a job means that Reggie is pulling the weight of two people. Then, Reggie’s mom wins big in the lottery. Suddenly the money—and the popularity—comes pouring in. But when Reggie finds out that her mother has been borrowing more money than she actually won, she must face up to the fact that happiness can’t be bought—it only comes with hard work.”
WARNING: THIS REVIEW IS LONG. I've decided to make a short review followed by the longer review if you want details.
Okay so recap: Some parts were good, others weren’t. I needed less chit-chat, droning, and more character building, further details with Gabe, and some much needed karma. I did love: The friends, the step-dad, the climax—confrontations, the tears, the “‘You’ve screwed up, Mom. Don’t screw us up, too’”—and finally I loved Simon the rat*.
Cashing In’s synopsis sounded promising—intriguing, fun, and a dream come true. But when you combine a main character that I didn’t care much for, a cousin who I wished I had a shotgun for, and a relationship (with flannel mind you…attached to a guy though) that sort of never jump started I can understand where that excitement of the book drained away.
Regina Shaw had the perfect background for me to be sympathetic with—a father who just recently passed away, a mother who’s addicted to gambling and eBay, a brother who’s hardly ever there anymore—but her personality stole some it. I wished she would have just stepped up for herself. When your younger-than-you cousin blackmails you to do her bidding I can kind of let that slide. But when you let her “borrow” the necklace that your dad gave you—your one of only memento—I’m slightly peeved. That and when you’re practically spending more money than the actual blackmailing money she has on you, it’s odd. Besides what happens if she told? What proof does she have? A photo of the money that you stole? You can easily say that you took it from the ATM. Or was there something more to it that the author didn’t mention? Maybe it was just the main character’s personality—never lie. But then she’s been “lying” all this time when she stole the money. It’s just so frustrating to me when you’re constantly looking over your shoulder and in fear of your cousin. I also didn’t get much of grieving part of the father. It seemed to me that the entire family was more concerned with the money than the death.
Let’s talk about the cousin now. She doesn’t play a large role in the book but I really just wanted to take a shotgun and blow her brain. Okay maybe not that extreme, a slap or two perhaps? Her entire family just ARGH me. Aunt Barb is a cross between a cousin you’ve never heard of but pops up when you win the lottery and a sister who only talks to you when you have something she wants, something to gloat she wants to gloat to with, or just to degrade you. When you have the $$ then we can talk.
I would like to mention, though, that Reggie’s friends are pretty much awesome. Pete is a Star Wars fanatic, the other is a pie queen. And the best part is? They hooked up. We read about them for only a few pages but they were great pages. After the “incident” with Sarah (pie queen) and she broke her arm and received a concussion, Pete was there as soon as she woke up. Despite the fact that they were in the “off-stage” on their on-and-off relationship, Pete became a man and took care of Sarah. I pretty much went awhhhhhhh.
Speaking of relationships the thing with Gabe and Reggie was almost there but not quite. The building part was hardly there. I mean some secret glances, a few talks, a bump in the donut shop hardly constitutes as a “get to know the person before you date them” experience. For all she knew, he could have been a serial killer out shopping for little girls while working at the Say Cheese! Photo department (highly unlikely but it can happen). The hookups after that were more of the side effects from Reggie’s mom and the taunts from school. The “I love you”s I deemed as awkward on my end. The author lets us know that they’ve been going out for several months—6 or more—but as the reader, it’s been only like 2 chapters altogether. It wasn’t enough for me to be convinced of this relationship.
Okay so enough about the things that made me sad about the book, onto happy thoughts. We need happy thoughts. So while Reggie takes a whole lot of crap for the first 2/3 of the book, she ends up being strong at the end. The last couple chapters for me, I found myself loving it. I was just waiting for the emotional outbreak that made me feel something! And boy did I get it. We had several confrontations in regards with Sarah’s family, Reggie’s mom, Bridget (that little evil cousin) all ending with an epilogue that made sense. The majority of the pieces came together and we finished it with a pretty red bow.
Overall: I think this is hit or miss book depending on the reader. If you can get past the characters you will perhaps love the book. Sadly, I could only tolerate Reggie.
Um I seem to have this thing where I love covers but didn’t like the book. I adore the dress, handbag, and shoes. I think the pigeon-toed look works because it shows a sense of a missing emotional clarity. Reggie perpetually struggles with herself and the body language shows this. The shoes are so cute (I would never wear it though) and the handbag of course has to match the shoes. I think having the title sideways and toward the edge was a risky move that surprisingly looks good. Orange? Wow but it pops out to you.
*Simon the rat was client at the Say Cheese! Photo department.