Book 38: The Lottery by Patricia Wood

The Lotteryby Patricia Wood is the story of Perry L. Crandall, a mentally-challenged man who wins $12 million in the Washington State Lottery just months after his caregiver (grandmother) passes away. His cousin-brothers (actual brothers, but they don’t want people to know they have a ‘retarded’ brother, hence the preceding ‘cousin’) want nothing to do with him until the day they realize he won the money. They immediately start harassing him, urging him to sign a Power of Attorney, or grant them guardianship over him. Meanwhile, Perry is investing his money into the Marina he works at and thrives as an employee and business partner.

Reviewers on Amazon call The Lottery a modern-day Forrest Gump, to which I could not agree less. So the protagonist is mentally challenged and he has a friend who is a Vietnam Vet…that’s where the comparisons end. Wood wrote a very unique book, giving readers a glimpse into the thought process of a loving, giving man who happens to have a low IQ. His best friend is a bit of a drunk, but a good friend nonetheless, who tries very hard to protect Perry from his cousin-brothers. Perry’s love interest is an overweight, tattooed and pierced girl who needs saving. As it turns out, the saving is mutual.

I actually recommended this as a potential 1Book 1Community title, but mentally retracted my nomination towards the end of the book. The language is a bit too heavy, and the adult content (finances, business practices, sex) aren’t do well enough to start an appropriate dialogue with teen readers (who are a large audience for the 1Book). Regardless, I will definitely recommend this title to teens and adults who can maturely handle the content, and be able to look past the simplicity of the writing level and see a well-constructed story with numerous themes worth discussing.

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