May 23, 2013

Thursday Review: THE SHORT SELLER by Elissa Brent Weissman

Reader Gut Reaction: Elissa Brent Weissman's earlier novel Nerd Camp won the 2011 Cybils Award for Middle Grade Fiction, so although I don't read/review many middle grade books, I was eager to get my hands on this one. Plus, the premise is fantastic (and I do love me a book about a moneymaking scheme that goes awry, ahem…).

Seventh grader Lindy Sachs, who is home sick with mononucleosis, is bored, bored, bored until her dad gives her a hundred dollars and an online trading account. Lindy isn't great in math at school—in fact, she's just been demoted to the regular class from advanced math (woe!), and she's seeing a tutor on top of it all—but the hands-on application of math to the stock market makes sense, and something clicks…and she's shockingly good, it turns out, at the whole day-trader thing. Too good, in fact.

Concerning Character: Lindy is funny, bright, and easy to root for. She is extremely well-meaning but, of course, she also has her flaws, and it makes her very relatable. In particular, I think a lot of young readers (and older ones) will relate to her math mental block. For me, middle school was a big jump when it came to math; because I was younger than most of my classmates, and because of a not-so-great teacher I had in the 5th grade, I had some catching up to do, and I struggled a bit through 6th grade math and 7th grade pre-algebra, and even on into 8th grade algebra. Of course, conceptually, not everyone is in the same place in middle school, but Weissman deftly conveys the idea that just because a person has trouble in math CLASS, it doesn't mean they're hopeless at it in general. Lindy, in fact, is quite smart, and when she focuses her attention on learning all she can about stock trading, her hard work pays off…literally.

Recommended for Fans Of...: Realistic middle grade novels with a lot of humor and high-spirited characters that can't help but land in trouble: if you enjoy characters like Theodosia or Gilda Joyce, or books like The Higher Power of Lucky or The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, you may want to check this one out.

Themes & Things: There's quite a bit going on in this book besides the main plot of Lindy and her stock scheming, and that gives it all depth and realism, making it a believable story as well as an entertaining one. For instance, while Lindy's out sick and can't see her friends Steph and Howe, inevitably her relationship with them changes, and not necessarily for the better. And, of course, Lindy's financial machinations do have ramifications, and not all of those are good, either, which puts strain on her family relationships. But she's got a loving family who want her to prevail (even her occasionally attitudinal teenaged older sister Tracy), and the strong bonds they have mean that Lindy's got a chance to come out on top in the end…or at least break even.

Review Copy Source: Publicist.

You can find The Short Seller by Elissa Brent Weissman online, or at an independent bookstore near you!


tanita davis said...

I want to hug the cover. HOW CUTE. A snappy storyline, from the sound of it.

aquafortis said...

Is IS an adorable cover. Good story, too.

LinWash said...

Seems like a great book to discuss with kids about fiscal responsibility. (Even I have to laugh that I wrote that.) I love the premise.

aquafortis said...

Yes, it is!! I didn't even want to put that in the review because it sounds so cheesy, but it's true. It would make a good required read for school in that respect, and I mean that in the most positive way possible. :)