Publishers Weekly Review
Seventeen-year-old Oklahoma native Chelsea Knowles has grown up playing cards with her single father, and with their financial situation in a very dire place, she puts those skills to the test, sneaking into a local casino, where she wins big at poker. Suddenly, Chelsea has money to spare, and she begins to see playing poker as a means to help her father pay the bills and to afford the clothes and social opportunities she's only dreamed about. Thus begins a gambling spree with all the highs and lows that come with the territory, as well as a romance with Nate, an attractive casino worker a few years her senior. Debut author Dill paints a visceral portrait of the way financial pressures take a toll on a family, particularly on teenagers who don't necessarily feel as though they can anything about it. Chelsea's tender if fraught relationship with her father, given extra depth through flashbacks, and the electric thrill she gets as money starts coming in, will make it easy for readers to understand why she embarks on such a risky path. Ages 13-up. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Library Journal Review
Gr 9 Up-In this cautionary tale of a cheerleader's descent into poker addiction, 17-year-old Chelsea is one of the less privileged members of a cheer squad filled with rich girls. She has an absent mother and a deeply depressed father, her family's bills don't always get paid on time, and there's certainly not enough money for the necessary squad fees. Her first visit to the casino is altruistic: to make enough cash to keep her family going. But quickly the thrill of the games-and the presence of handsome security guard Nate-draw her to the table night after night. In an unusual departure from more frequently seen settings of teens coping with addiction, Dill places her drama at the smoky poker tables of unglamorous casinos, where Chelsea struggles with her inner demons while surrounded by senior citizens with bouffant hairstyles. Her burgeoning romance with Nate is always shown as sweet, a bright light amid her downward spiral. Both poker lovers and cheer fans will appreciate the detail included about both worlds, though previous knowledge of either is not necessary to enjoy the story. VERDICT The engaging style, fast pace, and unusual settings make this a solid choice to recommend to reluctant readers.-Ann Foster, Saskatoon Public Library © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.