Perry L. Crandall will tell you that the "L" stands for Lucky. He is. He's not retarded - his IQ is 76, one point above the cut. He is slow. He has to concentrate longer on things and write things down. His Gram taught him well. The rest of his family ignores him and don't claim him. His best friend is Keith, a crude Viet Nam vet who helps out Gram and Perry when they need it. After Gram dies, Perry goes to live above the boating supply store where he has worked since he was 16. Then he wins the 12 million dollar Washington State Lottery.
All of the sudden Perry becomes "somebody". People now look at him with respect. They look him in the eye instead of away. They listen to him. And his brothers and mother start swarming around him constantly. Gram had instilled some great life rules into Perry. One was that he shouldn't trust his mother or brothers. So Perry listens to his boss and Keith first.
Perry's solid foundation from Gram's teaching hold him in good stead. People close to him discover there's more to him than they realized. Perhaps they should have recognized that earlier, but now they do. Perry's life is affected by the sudden wealth. But Perry isn't.
Patricia Wood strikes a perfect note in Lottery. Percy tells the story in first person (a la Flowers for Algernon or The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time). Gram taught Percy to read the dictionary, so he has an interesting vocabulary. He knows what words mean, but doesn't always understand. For example, an auditor is a listener, so Perry calls himself an auditor. He listens to people more than he talks.
This is a book that takes the reader for an emotional ride. You have to empathize with Perry and the people in his life. I cried for him. I cheered for him. I was happy for him. I laughed for him. And I was fearful for him.
Since Lottery is written in Perry's voice, it is a simple read. The reader has to fill in the blanks that Perry misses or ignores. That makes it a richer experience. It's a feel good book with an ultimate happy ending for almost everyone - except his brothers, of course. Even they get what they want as well as what they deserve.
I read this book with my book club. If you get a chance to read it with a group, you'll have an interesting discussion. If you're smart, send an email to Patricia Wood. (Here's her homepage.) She loves to talk with her readers. We had a phone conference with her during our monthly book club meeting. Her background and her stories made our evening.
Notice: Suggestive dialogue or situations
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These reviews are personal opinions only and in no way reflect other readers' opinions of the books discussed.
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