Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Lottery Boy by Michael Byrne

He's young and he's alone.  His mom died, he doesn't like or trust his stepdad who already had another woman in line, and he has his dog.  They'll do OK together.  He has a pen knife, his dog has good teeth, what more does he need?  Some food would be good...

Candlewick Press and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It has already been published.

Bully gets by.  He raids bins, eats leftovers on plates outside restaurants, steals a bit here and there.  He has his own doorway to sleep in.  Only one guy ever bothers him and he shakes down everybody on the streets.  He doesn't need to, he has money, but he likes being a tough bully, so he does it.

When Bully gets out his most precious possession and listens to his mother's recorded voice on a birthday card telling him she loves him, it makes him feel better.  She's gone but she did love him.  Then he finds a lottery ticket tucked into the card.  When he checks the number, he finds out he's won the jackpot.  The only problem is that he needs an ID to pick it up and he also needs to be older.  Maybe he can fake that or find someone that would claim it for him.  Maybe.

It's hard to keep a secret though.  And as soon as he tells one person his good luck, the wolves of London are after him.  Every street person around is watching for him and trying to get their hands on the ticket.

This is not a pleasant tale.  You follow Bully on his run to the city where he can claim his winnings.  People are attacking him from all sides.  He eventually gets caught by the tough bully.  When his dog gets put in the ring with a pit bull it looks like the story will get even more ugly.

While the story turns out much differently than Bully or I thought, there is one good thing that came out of it.  That redeems the whole read for me.  Despite Bully's rough start, he has a better life at the end.  I wish it were so for all of us.

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