[An] irresistible debut novel about what makes people good or bad, smart or stupid.
All the familiar ingredients are in this novel: the slow guy with the heart of gold and the disquieting habit of seeing things (and people) for what they are, the unscrupulous family (see Cinderella's evil stepsisters), the unsuitable but loving friends with their steadfast loyalty and kindness. The antidote to the blurry smear of these cliches is a kind of winning particularity. Patricia Wood's portrait of Perry is so vivid and funny and poignant and joyful that it avoids the disappointing flatness of the predictable.
The Washington Post
A winning narrator.
Much more than a novel about a windfall affecting a simple soulit's a book about a stupendous event affecting a great number of people, especially the reader.
Veteran narrator Michael brings his distinct gift for dialogue and vocal mannerisms to Wood's novel. The action centers on how winning a $12-million lottery jackpot complicates the life of 32-year-old Perry L. Crandall, the dedicated employee of a marine supply store in the harbor city of Everett, Wash. With an IQ of 76, Perry emphatically proclaims that he is "slow, not retarded!" Wood's dichotomy of Perry's impaired cognition does present some challenges for Michael, especially as the unsuspecting protagonist recounts-but does not grasp-the devious conversations among his money-grubbing relatives. The thriller elements manage to move along reasonably well, but the heart and soul of both Wood's storytelling and Michael's performance remains the exchanges between Perry and his close-knit surrogate family, including the beloved grandmother who raised him and the earthy band of characters with whom he shares the docks of Puget Sound. As Perry regularly interjects "That is so cool!" to his reflections on both the large and small joys of daily life, Michael gives the proceedings a refreshing breeze of Zen rather than garden-variety sentimentality. Simultaneous release with the Putnam hardcover (Reviews, June 4). (Sept.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
By choosing to tell the story of Perry L. Crandall, a 31-year-old man with an IQ of 76, from Perry's viewpoint and in his own voice, debut author Wood has set herself quite a challenge. Although getting used to Perry's narrative takes a bit of time, the technique ultimately succeeds. Perry's life in a small coastal town is radically changed by two events early in the novel: the death of his caretaker grandmother and his winning $12 million in the Washington State Lottery. Soon, Perry's relatives-who'd only just cheated him out of the inheritance he was due on his grandmother's death-are holding out their hands for money. Wood keeps the reader guessing as to how the story will end, and the resolution is satisfying. She meets her goal of portraying a mentally challenged person as a fully realized, functioning human being. Perry's worldview is so charming and fair that by the end, you might think he's the smartest character in the whole book [See Prepub Alert, LJ5/1/07.]
A first novel told from the perspective of a mentally limited man caught up in forces beyond his control. Perry L. Crandall ("L" for Lucky) isn't retarded-he'll tell you so. His beloved Gram tells him being slow isn't a bad thing; he'll get where he needs to go in his own time. She also warns Perry about whom to trust in the world, and especially to value his own abilities and instincts. After Gram dies, his absent mother and siblings swindle him out of the house she left him. Under the protective eyes of his boss Gary, Vietnam vet Keith and convenience-store clerk Cherry, Perry settles into a new routine on the waterfront in Everett, Wash. He has a job at Holsted's Marine Supply, an apartment over the shop, and he takes weekly trips to the Handy Mart to buy lottery tickets. When one ticket pays off with $12 million, Perry is plunged into a new world of fame, wealth and false friends. Predictably, his avaricious family members plot to get their hands on his fortune, but Perry's well-meaning friends are equally worrisome as they happily help him fritter away his winnings and offer amateurish if well-intentioned advice. Tired of the constant pressure for him to sign his Power, as he calls the power-of-attorney document, Perry makes a surprising decision that settles for good the problem of his family and the money. Wood does a good job of scene setting, and the tension around whether-or when-Perry will be swindled out of his money makes the middle of the book a page turner. At the same time, the narrative voice is rather flat, and some of the developments are unrealistic. A thought-provoking idea imperfectly executed.