Cover image for Jackpot

1st ed.
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343 pages ; 22 cm.
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Meet Rico: high school senior and afternoon-shift cashier at the Gas 'n' Go, who after school and work, races home to take care of her younger brother. Every. Single. Day. When Rico sells a jackpot-winning lotto ticket, she thinks maybe her luck will finally change, but only if she--with some assistance from her popular and wildly rich classmate Zan--can find the ticket holder who hasn't claimed the prize. But what happens when have and have-nots collide? Will this investigative duo unite...or divide?


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From the author of the New York Times bestseller Dear Martin --which Angie Thomas, the bestselling author of The Hate U Give, called "a must read"--comes a pitch-perfect romance that examines class, privilege, and how a stroke of good luck can change an entire life.

Meet Rico: high school senior and afternoon-shift cashier at the Gas 'n' Go, who after school and work races home to take care of her younger brother. Every. Single. Day. When Rico sells a jackpot-winning lotto ticket, she thinks maybe her luck will finally change, but only if she--with some assistance from her popular and wildly rich classmate Zan--can find the ticket holder who hasn't claimed the prize. But what happens when have and have-nots collide? Will this investigative duo unite...or divide?

Nic Stone, the New York Times bestselling author of Dear Martin and Odd One Out, creates two unforgettable characters in one hard-hitting story about class, money--both too little and too much--and how you make your own luck in the world.

"A delightful, hilarious romance that digs into issues surrounding class. You'll laugh as much as you sigh while reading this novel about luck, love...and how having a little bit of both is more than enough." --Paste

"Funny, captivating, and thoughtful." - The

Author Notes

Nic Stone is the author of the New York Times bestselling Dear Martin and Odd One Out, which Booklist called "essential reading" in a starred review. Jackpot, her third novel, is a life-affirming story about the humanity in people, no matter how little or how much is in their bank account.

Nic lives in Atlanta with her adorable little family.


Reviews 5

Publisher's Weekly Review

On Christmas Eve, Gas 'n' Go employee Rico Danger, 17, sells two lottery tickets to a woman with memory troubles. After Rico realizes that one of them may be worth $106 million, she begins obsessing about the winning ticket's whereabouts. Rico's mother works too much, mismanages her meager earnings, and refuses to go on Medicaid; Rico handles the family's finances and works double shifts to make rent; and her little brother keeps getting sick. When nobody claims the jackpot after several days, Rico enlists classmate Zan Macklin, a wealthy computer whiz, to help her track down the customer. As they work together, she and Zan careen toward a romance layered with intersectional issues: multiethnic Rico is believably resentful about her family's situation; Zan, part white and part Latinx, is often oblivious to his privilege and high-handed with his wealth; and neither believes they have much choice for their future. Interstitials by objects ("A Word from the Right Ticket") occasionally disrupt the first-person narration, and the primary relationship suffers from an insufficiently characterized male lead. But Stone (Odd One Out) authentically portrays the precarious, terrifying act of living with far less than is needed to survive, and its financial and emotional fallout. Ages 14--up. (Oct.)

Horn Book Review

School, work, home; repeat. Such is the life of Rico, high school senior, part-time convenience-store clerk, and full-time caregiver to her nine-year-old brother. In Rico's life, there is not much room for friends, fun, or dreaming about the future-until an elderly woman comes to the Gas 'n' Go on Christmas Eve and purchases a high-stakes lottery ticket. When the numbers are announced and no one comes forward with the winning ticket, Rico convinces herself it's in the elderly woman's hands. Enlisting the help of her wealthy, popular classmate Zan, she devises a plan to track down the woman-and hopefully be rewarded for her efforts. For Rico, finding the ticket is a matter of survival, but Zan has his own motives that do not involve money. As their adventure unfolds, the teens begin to develop feelings for each other, and they are forced to confront the many differences between them. Occasional interludes are narrated by the voices of the winning lottery ticket ("It's not easy being an inanimate object worth enough American dollars to feed a family of six in Chad for over forty thousand years"), a taxi cab, and other items, broadening the perspective and adding some humor and brief fantastical elements. By turns romantic, funny, and surprising, the story explores how class, status, and money-or lack thereof-have the ability to limit or expand life opportunities, the choices we make, and our universal need for love and connection. Monique Harris November/December 2019 p.100(c) Copyright 2019. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Booklist Review

Seventeen-year-old Rico Danger (pronounced DON-gur) helps her single mother pay rent and raise nine-year-old Jax, which leaves no time for making friends or having dreams. Then, while working at a gas station register, she sells a lotto ticket to a cute old lady, who after no one claims the $106 million prize Rico is sure has the winner. She turns to millionaire teen heartthrob Zan to help her find the woman, but when he takes a more-than-friendly interest in Rico, she must figure out how she can possibly fit into his upper-class world. Stone (Odd One Out, 2018) delivers a heartfelt, humorous teen romance fraught with the tension between financial privilege and the lack thereof. While presenting a shrewd depiction of the resulting power dynamics, the stakes feel surprisingly low, and the romance is somewhat humdrum. Despite puzzling chapter intervals written from the perspective of omniscient objects (e.g., a saltshaker, Zan's bedsheets), there's something about Stone's storytelling and Rico's narration that is entirely engaging, making this an ultimately hard-to-put-down, enjoyable read.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Stone's debut, Dear Martin (2017), launched an award-winning, best-selling career that shows no sign of slowing down, and she'll be touring the nation with her latest.--Ronny Khuri Copyright 2010 Booklist

School Library Journal Review

Gr 8 Up--Seventeen-year-old Rico Danger (pronounced DON-gur) has never wondered what it would be like to win the lottery, even though her mom isn't great at handling the little money they have and is too proud to sign up for the public assistance they desperately need. That is, until the Georgia Gas 'n' Go where Rico works sells one of two winning tickets for a 212 million dollar jackpot. As time passes and the ticket goes unclaimed, Rico is positive that she knows who bought it and is determined to track the kind woman down. After a chance encounter with computer whiz Zan Macklin, one of the richest guys at school, the duo band together to follow the mystery woman's trail, discover their different attitudes about life, bond over their biracial identities and complicated family relationships, and start to fall for each other. Chapters with inanimate objects' point of view are interspersed into the first-person narration, giving clues to the plot and levity to serious topics of race, class, privilege, and poverty. While secondary characters could have been more fleshed out, Stone delivers a deftly constructed tale that is equal parts satisfying wish-fulfillment and light-handed lessons learned. VERDICT A must-purchase for teen collections of all sizes, this is a real winner.--Brittany Drehobl, Morton Grove Public Library, IL

Kirkus Review

Seventeen-year-old Rico's family is living paycheck to paycheck and way beyond their means, even with Rico's practically full-time job and her mother's long hours. When a customer purchases the winning ticket at the Gas 'n' Go where she works but doesn't claim it, Rico begins searching for the elderly woman she believes to be the winner. She enlists the help of Zan, the superrich heir of Macklin Enterprises in their hometown of Norcross, Georgia. Rico tentatively begins to hope in the future as her feelings for the privileged and complex Zan and her camaraderie with new friends finally start balancing out her family's struggles. Filled with rich character development, whip-smart dialogue, and a layered exploration of financial precariousness, Stone (Odd One Out, 2018, etc.) touches on rising health care costs, the effect of illness in the family, interracial dating, and biracial identity. Intermittent passages from the perspectives of inanimate objectsincluding the winning ticketaround the characters add humor, and the short chapters inject the narrative with suspense. Rico is white, Latinx, and black. Zan is Latinx and white, and they live in a predominantly white neighborhood. Readers will have to suspend disbelief at the book's conclusion, but this romantic coming-of-age novel will have them hoping for their own lucky ending.Stone delivers a thoughtful and polished novel about class, privilege, and relative poverty. (Fiction. 14-adult) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.



Mo NO Money, Mo Problems Oh, the irony of counting out change for a fifty-­dollar bill while "Mo Money, Mo Problems" plays in the background. "Sir, I'm out of tens and twenties," I say. "I'll have to give you fives and singles . . . is that okay?" It has to be, obviously. The man smiles and nods enthusiastically. "Perfectly fine," he says, dusting off the lapels of his (expensive-­looking) suit. "Matter of fact, keep a couple of those singles and give me a Mighty Millions ticket with the Mightyplier thing. I'll slide a few of the other dollars into the Salvation Army bucket out front." Despite my desire to snort--­I know one shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but based on the Mercedes-­Benz key fob lying on the counter, I'd say this guy doesn't need two hundred and twelve million more dollars--­I force the corners of my mouth to lift. "That's very generous of you, sir." Barf. "Nothing like a cheerful giver!" The man takes his $43.74 in change, then grabs his mechanically separated meat stick and bottle of neon-­green Powerade. "Thanks so much"--­he looks at my name tag--­"Rico?" "That's me!" I chirp. "Hmm. Interesting name for a cute girl such as yourself. And what interesting eyes you have . . . two different browns!" Now he's winking. Oh God. "Thank you, sir. And thank you for shopping at the Gas 'n' Go." He tosses a Merry Christmas! over the checkout counter before rotating on the heel of his fancy shoe and strutting out like he just won the lotto. Merry Christmas. Pfffft. Not much real "merry" about a ten-­hour shift on Christmas Eve. It'll almost be Christmas when I walk out of this joint . . . and then I get to spend thirty minutes walking home since the one public bus in this town stopped running hours ago. Good thing the crime rate in (s)Nor(e)cross, GA, is relatively low and it's not that cold out. I look at my Loki watch--­a birthday gift from my baby brother, Jax, that I never leave home without despite how childish it makes me look. Ninety-­seven minutes to freedom. "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" comes pouring out of the speakers (note to self: ask Mr. Zoughbi who the heck made this playlist), and I drop down onto my stool and put my chin in my hand. Truth be told, the influx of holiday cheer really has been a nice reprieve. Seems like every day there's a new political scandal or gun attack or government-­sanctioned act of inhumanity or threat of nuclear war, but then Thanksgiving hit, and it felt like a collective exhale. The bell over the door dings, snapping me back, and the cutest little old lady I've ever seen makes her way toward the counter. She's tiny--­definitely under five feet and maybe ninety pounds soaking wet--­with dark brown skin and a little pouf of white hair. The Christmas tree on her sweater has real lights, and when I smile this time, it's for real. "Welcome to Gas 'n' Go," I say as she steps up to the counter. "Why, thank you, dear. Aren't you just lovely?" Cheeks are warm. "Well, you're looking pretty lovely yourself, madam," I reply. She giggles. "I mean it. That's a gorgeous sweater." "Oh, you stop that," she says. "And anyhow, shouldn't you be at home with your family? Take it from an old bird: you don't wanna work your life away, now." I smile again. "Yes, ma'am. I'll be blowing this Popsicle stand in a little over an hour." "Good." She nods approvingly. "So how can I help you on this cool Christmas Eve?" She leans forward over the counter a bit, and I'm drawn toward her like a magnet. "Well, I was on my way to church, and between you and me"--­she pauses to peek over her shoulder--­"I happened to look up as we passed one of those billboards that show the Mighty Millions jackpot. You know what I'm talkin' about?" I nod. Drop my voice to a near-­whisper so it matches hers. "Two hundred and twelve million, right?" "That's what the billboard said. I wasn't gonna play this time, but then I saw your station loom up on the left, and . . . well, it felt like a sign. So I decided to stop." Now I'm really smiling. This is the kind of person I would love to see win. "How old are you, sweet pea?" she asks. "I'm seventeen, ma'am." "That's about what I thought. You remind me of my granddaughter. She's in her third year at Florida A&M University." I feel my smile sag, so I look away and pretend to do something behind the counter. Really hoping she doesn't ask about my (nonexistent) college plans. I'd rather not deal with another adult customer's judgy raised eyebrow when I explain that instead of college, I'll accept the management position I've been offered here at Gas 'n' Go, and continue to help support my family. When I turn back to her, she's rifling around in her purse. "Thought I had a photo somewhere, but I guess not." She shuts the bag and smiles at me. "What were we talkin' about?" "Umm . . . your granddaughter?" "No, no." With a wave. "Before that. I've got a nasty case of CRS lately. . . ." "CRS?" She leans forward and lowers her voice again. "Cain't Remember Shit." And now I'm really smiling again. Laughing, actually. "I'm serious, now!" she says. "Where were we?" "You were about to purchase a Mighty Millions ticket." "Oh yes, that's right! Let's do that." I step over to the machine. "Do you have specific numbers you'd like to play?" "I do! Been playing the same ones since 1989." She calls them out, and as the ticket prints, I stop breathing: three of her white-­ball numbers--­06, 29, 01--­make up my birth date. And her Mighty Ball number is 07. Which is supposed to be lucky, right? "You've got my birthday on here!" tumbles out before I can stop it. Frankly, I do my best not to pay attention to the lottery at all. Mama's been obsessed with the idea of winning for as long as I can remember, but after years of watching her make sure she had a dollar for a ticket and continuing to cling to this impossible hope while our finances literally crumbled around her (no doubt she bought at least one for this jackpot cycle) . . . Hard pass. Seeing the day I was born pop up on a ticket, though? The lady's face is lit up brighter than her Christmas tree sweater. "Your birthday, huh?" "Mm-­hmm." I point it out. "Well, I'll be! Perhaps you're my lucky charm!" My eyes stay fixed on the ticket as she takes it from me. What if she's right? Two hundred and twelve million dollars could be on that little slip. "Tell ya what, print me one of those Quick Picks, too," she says. "Yes, ma'am. Would you like to add the Mightyplier ­option to this one? For an extra dollar, it'll double any nonjackpot winnings." "Oh no, we're going for the big bank!" I laugh. "Coming right up." Excerpted from Jackpot by Nic Stone All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.