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3 of the Best YA Books About Windfalls

Tirzah Price

Senior Contributing Editor

Most of Tirzah Price's life decisions have been motivated by a desire to read as many books as humanly possible. Tirzah holds an MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and has worked as an independent bookseller and librarian. She’s also the author of the Jane Austen Murder Mysteries, published by HarperTeen, and Bibliologist at TBR: Tailored Book Recommendations. Follow her on Twitter @TirzahPrice.

This list of YA books about windfalls is sponsored by the Read Harder Journal, a reading log for tracking your books and reading outside your comfort zone!

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What would you do if you won a million dollars? It’s a common enough daydream, although it rarely happens. But I imagine that everyone would have an answer (or twenty!), even if the realities of a sudden windfall might not all be rosy. In these three YA books, different teens in vastly different circumstances each experience a sudden windfall and have to deal with the excitement and the challenges of managing money, and the effect it has on their families and relationships.

Jackpot Book CoverJackpot by Nic Stone

Rico works as a cashier at a gas station after school, and takes care of her little brother in between work and school. Her life is a constant hustle, so when she sells a winning lottery ticket that goes unclaimed, she can’t help but wonder: If she can find the winner, will she finally catch a break? She teams up with rich classmate Zan to track down the winner, but their investigation brings out some complicated feelings and ideas about privilege, class, and money.

WindfallWindfall by Jennifer E. Smith

Alice doesn’t really believe in luck, but she does believe in love. When she buys her friend (and secret crush) Teddy a lottery ticket for his birthday (as a joke!), she attaches a note professing her love. But joke’s on her when he doesn’t see the note and the lotto ticket actually wins—$140 million dollars. As Teddy gets swept up in the excitement  of money and fame, Alice struggles to stay grounded and begins to wonder if the money is really lucky, or unlucky.

Gem and Dixie by Sara ZarrGem & Dixie by Sara Zarr

Gem and Dixie are sisters who have grown apart thanks to their hard home life. Their mom spends what little money they have on drugs, and their dad floats in and out of their lives. When he floats in and Gem discovers a bag full of cash among his things, she whisks Dixie away for a weekend, hoping to convince her to run away once and for all and use the money to start a new life. But their weekend away reveals cracks in their relationships and sharp contrasts between the sisters as they must figure out their futures.

What are some of your favorite books featuring unexpected windfalls?

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