Jackpot, by Dear Martin author Nic Stone, is a fun story about two teens on a treasure hunt, which layers in observations on race, class structures, and wealth. At its core is the mystery of the missing lottery ticket, with its two main characters hot on the case.
From the publisher:
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?
I read Dear Martin last year, and found it an enlightening portrayal of the conflict between police and people of color. It offered a lot of insight into questions of race and the concept of White Privilege. Stone revisits many of these themes in Jackpot, but in a very different context.
Rico and Zan act as amateur sleuths, follow up on leads and chasing the trail of the woman believed to be holding the winning ticket in a $100 million lottery jackpot. Rico works full time to support her family while attending high school. Her mother works full time as well to afford the apartment in the good school district. They have no health insurance. Rico can’t even allow herself to imagine how her life would change if she had that winning ticket.
Rico makes judgments on her classmates’ relative financial position that turn out to be wrong. Many of her classmates are unaware of Rico’s situation as breadwinner for her family. Jackpot allows us to question the assumptions we make about people based upon what little we might know about them.
Overall, the subject material in Jackpot is far more fun than focused on deeper issues. Those themes are an undercurrent throughout, but following the mystery and seeing Rico and Zan’s friendship develop offers a lot of exciting and funny moments.
I highly recommend Jackpot for a quick, entertaining read with some important messages about race and privilege.