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thehidingspot

The Hiding Spot

I focus primarily on Young Adult, Middle Grade, and Children's books, but my tastes are eclectic, so I change things up frequently!

Aces Up

Aces Up - Lauren Barnholdt ACES UP was my introduction to Lauren Barnholdt and her writing, and I must say, it was a great first impression. Despite the fact that I know nearly nothing about poker and the colorful world of gambling, I found it remarkably easy to identify with Shannon. It wasn't so much the fast, faintly sinister world she found herself in that I found intriguing, but the reason she felt she needed to venture there. Shannon's family has fallen on hard economic times and they've had to give up many extraneous expenses. The one thing Shannon refuses to give up is her dream to attend her Wellesley after she completes her senior year. Shannon must decide is the money and the guarantee of being able to afford Wellesley worth the risk. And the risk is huge. It isn't hard to put myself in Shannon's shoes... I think the majority of college and college bound students will empathize with her fear and stress. It's insanely difficult to pay for school today. Students are often told that if they work hard, get good grades, etc, etc, everything will be fine. Shannon's story is very true to life: sometimes, everything isn't fine. The novel primarily focuses on Shannon, but she also has a sister who is also struggling to pay for college as well. The difference between the two, is that her sister doesn't attempt any get rich quick schemes, illegal or otherwise, but instead, continues to work hard and remains positive. I liked that the reader was able to compare the vastly different paths each sister chose.The one element of the novel that I wasn't completely sold on was the romantic bits. I felt more of a connection to the boy Shannon wasn't supposed to fall for than the one she did, which made for a lackluster response. The story's resolution may have been idealized. Shannon does, of course, learn her lesson and the story ends, more or less, happily. But many are or will be facing a similar situation and I think that ACES UP will guide them. Yes, we are all free to make our own decisions, but there is comfort in picking up a novel where the main character is in a similar situation. Even if the reader's situation isn't identical to Shannon's, it still serves as a reminder that no matter how good that "bad" choice may seem, it's in one's best interest to veer toward the "good."Grade: B+