Title: Spare Change
Author: Bette Lee Crosby
Source: Copy from author for review
From Goodreads: "A Woman who is Superstitious to the Core…
A Boy who claims his Parents are Dead…
A Murderer who wants to Silence the Truth of What Happened.
Olivia Westerly knows what she knows—opals mean disaster, eleven is the unluckiest number on earth and children weigh a woman down like a pocketful of stones. That’s why she’s avoided marriage for almost forty years. But when Charlie Doyle happened along, he was simply too wonderful to resist. Now she’s a widow with an eleven-year-old boy claiming to be her grandson.
Spare Change is a quirky mix of Southern flair, serious thoughts about the important things in life, the madcap adventures of a young boy and a late change of heart that makes all the difference in an unusually independent woman.
With a foul mouth, dark secrets and heavily guarded emotions, Ethan Allen Doyle is not an easy child to like. He was counting on the grandpa he’d never met for a place to hide, but now that plan is shot to blazes because the grandpa’s dead too. He’s got seven dollars and twenty-six cents, his mama’s will for staying alive, and Dog. But none of those things are gonna help if Scooter Cobb finds him."
My Opinion: I absolutely devoured this book and can totally see myself re-reading it many times in the years to come because I fell in love with the characters! Bette Lee Crosby has quite a Southern voice in her writing, reminiscent of Fannie Flagg in Fried Green Tomatoes. Her characters are very honestly written, with both the good and bad aspects of human emotions being brought to life.
The story is told from the POV of multiple characters, which can become confusing if not done well, and thankfully, Ms. Crosby does it VERY well! Each character has a very unique voice, so you always know who is speaking. The first half of the book sets up the two groups of characters, Olivia and Charlie Doyle and how they get together, as well as Ethan Allen Doyle, his mother and father, and their lives. This leads us to the halfway point of the book, when Olivia and Ethan Allen finally meet. Olivia is a wonderful character: 58 years old, very superstitious about the number 11, who never wanted to have children and had given up on even having a family until she met Charlie. Unfortunately, their happiness is short-lived, but their marriage completely changes her outlook on life. Enter 11-year old Ethan Allen, Charlie's grandson who he never actually met, following his own personal tragedy. Ethan Allen has witnessed a murder and is running for his life, and the only place he has to go is to Olivia (in Charlie's absence), who doesn't know what to do with him, or how to help him. Along the way, they help each other deal with their grief and heal.
This is an extremely well written and edited book with very likable characters who you grow to care about and root for. Throw in a murder and the search for the killer - before he can find and silence Ethan Allen, the only witness - and you have one hell of a book! I highly recommend this for all lovers of great Southern fiction :)