Enjoy this review from Elaine on Goodreads about Spare Change!
Elaine reviews Spare Change – Reader Salute
Turn off your cell phone and butter up some popcorn when you read Spare Change because you’re reading a book you’ll swear some studio has already bought the rights to turn into a movie. I admit, I’m drawn to southern characters and southern tales and Ms. Crosby has cooked up a good one in Spare Change. The characters are fully developed and layered with endearing traits, annoying habits and the right amount of quirkiness. They were so real, I wanted to sit in a booth next to them just to eavesdrop on their conversations you’ll be sure they’re having outside the book’s narrative.
Olivia Westerly is a confirmed bachelorette in an era when women aspired to marriage versus a career. Marriage means children and children mean emotional imprisonment. Olivia passes judgment on motherhood as she describes the birth of a friend’s child as having “added another one to her litter” and the baby as “howling like a banshee”” and how all the children “suck on her like so many leaches”. Ms. Crosby puts the reader in the mind of the characters in such a way that although we may not see the world the same way as her characters, the reader will certainly find her characters believable. The dialogue is refreshing, as well. Many writers struggle with bringing a voice to their characters through effective dialogue, but not Ms. Crosby. It is another hidden gem in this thoroughly enjoyable tale.
When Olivia is past childbearing years, she allows herself to fall hopelessly and deeply in love with Charlie Doyle. But their life together is not destined to be long one. When he passes suddenly, he unexpectedly leaves her with his young grandson. Except Olivia doesn’t know it, because besides her own story, there is another story unfolding which will soon bring together the lives of a young boy and an older woman who never wanted children.
Ethan Allen Doyle grew up in a combative household with a father who could be cruel and a mother so self absorbed and resentful of her life she couldn’t nurture him. The boy is a survivor who is both wise and naïve. Without some positive change to the trajectory of his life, you sense he will end up living the same sad life his parents do. When he runs away from home under tragic circumstances, he ends up on the doorstep of Olivia Westerly Doyle. The reason he is there and the ensuing drama bring a touch of suspense to this southern read.
Spare Change is a book about transformation, most notably Ethan’s and Olivia’s. But there are also the characters surrounding them who are transformed. I especially love the eclectic group of elderly neighbors living in the same apartment building as Olivia. They not only change the apartment building’s rules to accommodate a boy and his dog but to embrace and protect him. The rascally young boy changes them, as much as, their influence and the influence of his adopted grandmother Olivia, who never a desire to raise a child, changes him.
Word of advice, if this ever makes it to the big screen, bring tissues to the movie theater. At the end, I found myself brushing back my tears. Meanwhile, you can catch all of the action on your Kindle or in paperback.
Buy the book now – CLICK HERE
FROM A USA TODAY AUTHOR OF WOMEN’S FICTION BEST SELLERS comes an Award-Winning 20th Century Historical Mystery!
In a family saga now available on Kindle, Spare Change has been compared to John Grisham’s The Client. Eleven year-old Ethan Allen Doyle has witnessed a brutal murder and now the boy is running for his life. In the time-tested tradition of Southern Fiction novels, Crosby unveils the darkest side of human nature and then rewards her readers with this beautiful tale of love, loss and unexpected gifts.
Olivia Westerly is the only person Ethan Allen can trust, and he’s not too sure he can trust her. She’s got no love of children and a truckload of superstitions—one of them is the belief that eleven is the unluckiest number on earth.
Psychological fiction that will keep you turning the pages.
Literary Awards for Spare Change –
USA Today Bestseller
Barnes & Noble Bestseller
Reviewer’s Choice Award Winner
FAPA President’s Book Award
Royal Palm Literary Award
Readers View Regional Fiction
Eadon Contemporary Fiction Award
Book Bundlz Finalist
Independent Author Network – First Place Winner for Outstanding General Fiction Novel
Praise for Spare Change –
Midwest Book Review
“Skillfully written, “Spare Change” clearly demonstrates Bette Lee Crosby’s ability to engage her readers rapt attention from beginning to end. A thoroughly entertaining work of immense literary merit and strongly recommended for community library literary fiction and mystery collections, “Spare Change” is especially recommended for fans of well-crafted storytelling populated by memorable characters caught up in equally memorable circumstances.” – Julie Summers.
Seattle Post Intelligencer
Bette Lee Crosby’s Spare Change is a quirky mix of Southern flair, serious thoughts about important things in life, madcap adventures of a young boy and a late change of heart that made all the difference in the life of an unusually independent woman. More than anything, it is a heartwarming book, which is simultaneously intriguing and just plain fun.
Olivia Ann Westerly has always refused to conform. Instead of marrying and raising a family, as her father expected her to, she left home and found a job, rented a flat and had tons of fun. Oh, did I mention that she did that in 1923, when she was only 25-years-old? While today that would not have been anything extraordinary, she certainly was an exception back then. And then she decided not to marry and to continue her career, living in this manner quite happily all the way until 1956. It was then that she met Charlie Doyle and fell madly in love, agreeing to marry him without any hesitation when he asked her to.
But then Charlie had to go and die while they were on their honeymoon, and Olivia seemed to have lost all her will to do anything. Until Ethan Allen Doyle, Charlie’s grandson, showed up on her doorstep. Olivia never wanted children, so why would she change her mind now? And to make matters worse, Ethan Allen was 11-years-old and number 11 has always been a bad omen for Olivia. To top everything else, it was clear that Ethan Allen was hiding something. Was there any chance of a happy ending here?
I truly enjoyed this imaginative and very entertaining story. Told from many different perspectives, it kept my interest from beginning to end. The voices of the characters were very distinct and the good ones were easy to like, just like the bad guys were easy to hate and fear. It does not happen very often that I truly like the more minor characters in any book, since most of them never get the chance to develop enough to be really interesting, but Clara was one of my favorites here – heart of gold and brassy manners, what more could one want in a friend? She was just one in the substantial line-up of supporting characters who kept Ethan Allen’s presence in Olivia’s building a secret, or at least they thought so. Every one of those characters was well-defined and completely believable.
Furthermore, I enjoyed the storyline and the lively dialogue, as well as the rapidly unraveling mystery of the secret Ethan Allen was trying to keep to himself. And I am going to do my best to keep the beginning of the story, as told by Olivia, in mind for the future. Here’s what she had to say..
“I don’t suppose there’s a person walking the earth who doesn’t now and again think if I had the chance to live my life over, I’d sure as hell do it differently. When you get to a certain age and realize how much time you’ve wasted on pure foolishness, you’re bound to smack yourself in the head and ask, what in the world was I thinking? Everybody’s got regrets; myself included.
Some people go to their grave without ever getting a chance to climb out of that ditch they’ve dug for themselves, others get lucky. Of course, the thing about luck is that you’ve got to recognize it, when it walks up’ and says hello, the way Charlie Doyle did.”
Those two paragraphs alone would be enough for me to like this book and recommend it, yet they were truly just the beginning. If you want to know more, you will simply have to read Spare Change yourself, and I am certain you will not regret that. – Olivera Baumgartner-JacksonRead the Book Discussion Questions for Spare Change Read an excerpt from Spare Change
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