In my head this is how I met Jennifer Richard Jacobson… Courtney and I were eating lunch in the common area of Nerdcamp. I had brought some delicious Costco cookies from home and shared one with Courtney. I took one and then I had 2 cookies left. I looked over and asked the 2 women next to me if they’d like a cookie. Each agreed and we started chatting. Very quickly I learned that these sweet-toothed women were Jacqueline Davies of The Lemonade Wars Series and Jennifer Richard Jacobson of the popular series Andy Shane. After talking about our group and mission Jennifer handed us an Arc of The Dollar Kids.
I must admit I hadn’t heard anything about the book (which in a way I like sometimes, but from a publicity stand point I hope this post allows it to be put on more people’s TBR lists!) I was intrigued by the cover. And another thing I will admit is that I didn’t read the back of the book until after I had started it. The story starts with a short comic that sets up a major problem for our main character, Lowen. By page 4 we’ve found out Lowen’s friend was shot and killed and this sets the stage for the rest of the book. Lowen is ridden with guilt over his friend’s death and when an opportunity comes along to bid on a house costing a dollar in a small town where they can explore new opportunities as a family, the family agrees it’s worth a shot.
This book is intense, heartfelt, frustrating and touching all at the same time. I think that with such heavy topics and a total of almost 400 pages, the target audience would be 5th grade and up. I think the characters were so enduring in their own ways and I loved meeting and getting to know each one of them. Jennifer does a wonderful job of allowing you to grow with each character. Also, besides the comic that starts the book, there are others scattered through that puts you inside Lowen’s thoughts. I thought this was a clever way to portray some of his feelings. When I finished the book I felt a sense of fulfillment that I had gotten to know the Dollar Kids and part sad that I was leaving them. But it will be a book I recommend to many. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
Thank you Jennifer for taking the time to answer 3 questions about the book and 3 questions about you!
3 Questions about The Dollar Kids
What are three words you’d use to describe your book?
Thought-provoking, entertaining, uplifting
How did you come up with the idea for the dollar houses storyline?
My husband’s hometown is a former mill town and each time we visited, we observed more decline. We’d brainstorm ways the town might stimulate growth. I’d heard about dollar programs happening in other parts of the country and began to wonder what would happen if this little town decided to sell homes for one dollar. That “What if . . .” turned into this story.
All the characters are all very complex. Which one was the easiest to create, which was the hardest?
Thank you for saying that all of the characters are complex! I work hard to create characters who, like real people, have contradictions. Mum was probably the easiest to create because her persistence and determination are similar to mine. We are not easily dissuaded.
Lowen was no doubt the hardest character to develop. All of my protagonists concerns tap into my deepest fears. In this story, Lowen is trying to cope with his guilt over a friend’s death. While writing the story, I was wracked with guilt for having decided to have my beloved dog put down. I hated knowing that I was the one who determined when her life would end.
3 Questions about You
If you weren’t a writer, what would you want to be and why?
A teacher. And actually, I am! I no longer have my own classroom, but I travel around the country providing instruction and support on Writer’s Workshop.
What is one book that has stuck with you since you’ve read it?
Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson. Renée does such an incredible job of showing us how blind (and shallow) “good intentions” can be. I was trying to do something similar with The Dollar Kids.
What is one item in your refrigerator that tells us about you?
Champagne. Though my books tackle difficult issues, I do believe that life — and people– give us so much to celebrate!