Author: Heather Wardell
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Published: December 4th 2013
Publisher: Holly Leaf Press
Source: ARC via Netgalley
Angela has typical lottery-player plans: help friends and family, give more to charity, and escape her rut. But when she wins big, she faces angry relatives, her own unexpected greed, and a lawsuit from the person who put her in that rut. Almost nobody treats her normally, and they've got fifty million reasons not to.
She can buy anything she wants now, but can she buy the life she needs?
For most of us, winning a million dollar lottery is nothing but a dream, a nice little fantasy we like to entertain ourselves with only in our wildest daydreams. For Angela whose dream just became a reality, however, she quickly finds out that there's more to being a multi-millionaire than living extravagantly and buying private jets. While there are definitely some perks, there are surprisingly a lot of downsides in which Wardell is unafraid to explore.
I spotted another group just beginning their walk, taking tiny steps like we had, and realized we were now walking as smoothly as the previous group had been. Amazing how quickly humans get used to crazy situations.
This is the first book I've read by Heather Wardell but I can already tell she excels in character writing. We've all read a book where at least one character seems to lack any personality and whose only purpose seem to be for (bad) things to happen to them and then to be forgotten. You'll find no such character in Fifty Million Reasons. Instead, you'll find characters that you'll remember for their emotions, their motives, and their view in life. Aside from Angela, who I will talk more about later, the people I enjoyed reading about the most was Claudia, John, and Zack. Claudia is Angela's best friend and her struggles with trying to have a baby had me crossing my fingers and hoping the best for her. John's stubbornness really made me want to punch him and hug him at the same time. Zack is a precious kid who is sometimes too wise for his age, but if I had a kid who grew up to be like him, I would be so proud. So much time and effort has obviously been put into writing these characters, you can't help but easily connect with them and wish the best for them.
Angela, herself, is a genuine, generous protagonist who I found very difficult not to like. The only hitch in her characterization for me was her hangup on a relationship that ended nine years ago. I know "first loves" and "the one that got away" aren't easy to forget, but nine of years of wondering how your life would've been different if you were still with that person seems a bit excessive. Still, I liked how Angela's view on this managed to change throughout the story and was a nice indicator how much character growth she went through in just six months. As someone who is also afraid of change, Angela's fear that the money might have changed her and her relationships with others really resonated with me. Being privy to her thought processes as she slowly learns to accept those changes and start to balance her life only made me empathize with her even more.
This book will surely stop and make you reflect on your life, if even for the shortest of moments. Yet the book never, for one moment, gets preachy. Wardell doesn't tell the reader what is wrong or what is right. Instead, each character must try to find the solutions to their problems that best suited their own individual ethical code. In that process, the readers also end up pondering the same questions as the characters. If you won the lottery, how do you determine among your family, friends, and loved ones who gets what? How much is too much and too little during birthdays and holidays? What would you do if your relationships with the people closest to you changed because of money? If someone you knew won the lottery, would you ask them for money? If they offered it even when you didn't ask, would you accept it? When I thought about those questions, I couldn't help but be just a little more devoted to the characters and their stories and hoping that there was a happy ending for all.
The ending did manage to wrap up Angela's experience as a multi-millionaire extremely well. Although some might see it as predictable, I still found it satisfying while staying true to their characters. Overall, I would definitely recommend to anyone looking for a light, refreshing read that just leaves you with a warm feeling and rosy cheeks in the end.