GOLDEN TICKET, by Kate Egan, Feiwel & Friends, June 21, 2022, Hardcover, $16.99 (ages 8-12)
An honor student temps fate when she steals the answers to her school’s quiz bowl in Kate Egan’s Golden Ticket.
Eleven-year-old Ash McNulty is one of the “gifted and talented” kids at her school, spending most of her day in a special class with a few other advanced students. As the end of fifth grade rolls around, she should be on top of the world. According to everyone, she’s going to rock junior high!
But Ash has a secret: She can’t keep up with her advanced classmates anymore. The minute she asks for help though, everyone will know she’s not who they think she is. She’s not so smart. She might not even be that special. And her parents will be crushed to discover the truth.
If Ash can win the Quiz Bowl, though, that will show everyone that she is still on top. If she gets a lucky break ahead of time, all the better.
Except that “lucky break” backfires . . .
And Ash is left to question everything she thought she knew about school, friends, and success. —Synopsis provided by Feiwel & Friends
Golden Ticket asks the question, “When is good not good enough?” From the beginning of the novel, Ash’s academic anxiety is palpable. Her fears of not keeping up with her advanced classmates practically drip off the page. And as a parent reading this book, it made me really angry that her school/parents essentially set Ash up to fall. If you’ve never been taught how to cope with failure, things are likely to blow up in your face. And that’s what happens to Ash.
Author Kate Egan’s exploration of this brings into focus the effect it has on all aspects of life, particularly friendships and self-worth.
Golden Ticket was a hard read for me, as I didn’t particularly care for any of the characters. That lack of connection made the book only OK for me. However, I’m still recommending it because of its important topic, and because I can’t really put a finger on why I personally didn’t connect.
I recommend a quick read of the first chapter at your local library to see if Golden Ticket is a good fit prior to purchasing.
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