Reading/Interest Level: Intermediate, Young Adult
Author: Jennifer Richard Jacobson
Illustrator: Ryan Andrews
Twelve-year-old Lowen Grover is grieving after the loss of his friend Abe in a drug store shooting. He feels partially responsible that Abe was even in the store in the first place, and his guilt has been tormenting him. That's when Lowen finds an article about a town called Millville that is giving away homes for just one dollar. It seems perfect. They can get away from this tragedy, let his mom start a new business, and become more stable financially. His family gives up almost everything they know to buy this home and start a new adventure. However, things in the new town are not as dreamy as they had hoped. Unfriendly neighbors, slow business, and a seemingly endless repair list for the house make the transition to Millville tough on everyone. Lowen as well has to learn that he can't run away from his guilt or his grief and must learn how to face it head on. The family goes through tremendous growth after they move to Millville, but they and the town are both bettered by the dollar families.
The Dollar Kids is an incredibly moving book. The characters are realistic and well rounded. Anyone can relate to the Grover family dynamic. They fight and disagree, but through the difficulties that come with moving, they are fiercely loyal to each other and are able to make the best of a hard situation. Lowen is an especially good main character. His journey of healing is cathartic for people of all ages that are dealing with grief. The story validates his grief and guilt, but also shows the importance of leaning on others and finding ways to express yourself to learn how to confront the negative emotions and move on. The relatability of his character and story make this book a great resource for struggling youth. The writing as well is clear and compelling, hooking you into the story and providing rich detail about the town and the characters. This book is well worth the read.
*Contains mild language and mild sexual content.