Two Buck Hope by Tami Morning

The Fiction Addiction

Two Buck Hope (The Hope Series), by Tami Morning, is a new YA novel about Harvey's senior year of high school. This is an optimistic, but not saccharine, story of the haves and have-nots in a small Utah town. 

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Two Buck Hope with $2 Lottery TicketPhoto byTheFictionAddiction.com

High-school senior Harvey is a straight-A student with a real shot at being valedictorian, but he's skipping the school dances because the tickets cost too too much, and he can't afford anything to wear, anyway. On regular school days, he's just trying to get just one more wear out of his clothes before he has to ask his mom for laundry money.   They live in a cheap, rundown apartment complex, where Harvey's stepdad seems to drink away all their cash, but Harvey's mom doesn't want him to look for a job until graduation. Grades are important to her, since college could be Harvey's ticket out. 

Fortunately, Harvey's bestie, Lily, lives in the same apartment complex. His affection for Lily is a real bright spot in his days. Optimistic Lily insists on buying lottery tickets and imagining better days ahead for Harvey, herself, and her whole family. Her mom's got a different flavor of optimism, constantly advocating and protesting in the community. This sense of hopefulness powers the story, even when it's just one 18-year-old registering to vote in a local election. Characters have an easy path to giving up -- on school, on their family members, on their friends, and on themselves -- and they choose to keep trying. 

My main eyeroll with YA is when teenagers act like adults, so I enjoyed how much of the book was teenagers acting like actual teenagers. An Insta prank convinces half the senior class that Harvey's won the lottery, and it's exactly the kind of dumb joke your stoner friend would come up with, and Harvey's stoner friend is vaguely surprised that his joke had negative fallout, naturally. Lily's two dollars of hope and optimism turns into more teasing from the rich kids in town, who are realistically ready to prey on anyone different. At another point in the story, a sweet moment between Harvey and fun-loving Bonnie becomes a social media post. Of course Marcus would share a photo of friends enjoying the dance! Of course Lily would see it and feel hurt! It's all very believable. I also liked the love triangle that wasn't quite a love triangle, just a series of teenage misunderstandings. 

I enjoyed the overall message of the story. Two Buck Hope isn't the kind of story where all the problems are magically solved by the end. The rich jerks don't suddenly stop trying to rezone the poor families out of the school district, and the wealthy students don't all suddenly stop harassing their struggling classmates, but there's a gentle, believable hopefulness in the small changes in Harvey's life.

PS: I bought this scratch-off card because Two Buck Hope just cried out for a lottery ticket Instagram post. Although I felt a bit strange asking to buy a $2 lottery ticket that best matches the book cover, the guy at the bodega counter just nodded, like that was a reasonable thing to buy. Clearly not even close to the weirdest question he's been asked.

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The Hope Series CoversPhoto by(Cover art from the publisher)

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