Money Hungry

Sharon G. Flake

Raspberry, a spunky middle schooler, both narrates and stars in this novel.  As the title suggests, Raspberry is obsessed with money.  Although all of her friends would like some extra cash for all different reasons, Raspberry, whose life fell apart when her father started doing drugs and she and her mother had to live on the street, is determined to never live on the street again.  So, like so many middle schoolers, she runs a small business at school, selling pencils, chips, candies -- whatever can earn her a little cash.  She's tough, obnoxious, and sweet, all at the same time.  Although Raspberry lives in projects, she attends a magnet school and her friends come from a range of social backgrounds, from Ja'nae, whose mom ran off and is being raised by her sweet but overprotective grandparents, to Zora, who comes from money but whose parents are getting a divorce, to Mai, who is embarrassed of her Korean father and longs to be black rather than biracial.  The four friends move through this story, dealing with friendship issues, that every middle school girl can relate too, and dealing big family issues (Ja'nae's mom coming back into the picture, Raspberry's family losing their home) as well.  The main plot line of the story hits a crescendo when Raspberry's mom pours all of Raspberry's hard-earned savings out the window (she actually thinks Raspberry is a thief), but there are so many subplots, this novel feels less like a traditional book than a dip into Raspberry's world.  It's a very approachable look at the life of girls, socio-economic difference, the horrible fear that comes with poverty, and race/biracialism. And, more than anything else, it's a story of friendship and survival.

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