Title: Lucky Change
Author: Susan Law Corpany
Last year at this time, I was on my way to Hawaii with a suitcase full of books. This year, I holed up in my bedroom for the four-day weekend and read as much as I could (and plowed through 2 1/2 books in one day!). Lucky Change was a really quick read, and I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. Karen Donaldson is a single mom in her forties, with two grown children, a grandchild she's raising, and a job as a checker at Smith's. Her kids, Austin and Dee, have struggled with being the ward service project, with wearing the hand-me-downs from their peers at Mutual, who sometimes made them feel awkward about their relative poverty. A friendly gas station attendant encourages Karen to buy a lotto ticket, and suddenly she's in the money, with a $230 million jackpot. She decides to use the money to do good-- to help the lives of the people around her, many of them the outwardly wealthy women who shunned her for years. And through her endeavors, she's able to heal her family and also some of the people who struggle around her.
While Corpany's book doesn't really push any boundaries, I do feel that it makes some gentle pronouncements about some of the pitfalls in Utah Mormon culture, especially when ward members live right on top of each other and are all in each others' business. But in other ways she reinforces the same aspects of the culture that she criticizes. For example, Austin is twenty-two and hasn't served a mission. At first his family couldn't afford it and he didn't want to take charity from the ward, and then he got a job and bought a truck and felt bound to paying it off. He's stopped going to church because he feels that people judge him, and the girls he dates don't want to get serious because he's not an RM. I feel like these are all serious issues for young men living in the Mormon corridor, and Corpany solves the problem by having him go on a mission.
While the book is light and funny, I do feel like Corpany did a pretty good job with characterization, particularly with Karen and with the other women in her ward, and I liked seeing them humbled and transformed by Karen, forced to examine how they would have walked if they had been in her shoes. It's a quick, fun read, and while I feel like the ending is too predictably happy, with all the lose ends tied together, it was still a fun book. I'll definitely pass it on to my mom and I think she'll like it a lot.