Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen
by Donna Gephart
Olivia has always been the master of trivia. Terrible things await those who interrupt her Jeopardy! time on any given night. She's as good, or even better, than the adults on the show. Her only weakness is the dreaded Geography.
Each year, Jeopardy! devotes one week to kids and it's Olivia's last chance to enter before she ages out of the competition. With the help of her mother, brother, maybe-not-so-evil-almost-stepfather-Neil, and her maybe-not-so-evil-cute-boy-next-door-Tucker, Olivia hopes to train up and get on that show before it's too late.
Of course the one person she desperately wants to help her is the dad who left her family to marry her former best friend's mother and move them across the country to California. Maybe, just maybe, if she can get on to Jeopardy!, which is filmed in Culver City, CA, maybe she can finally see her dad again and get him to remember his original family.
But, even if she gets there, can she win, get oodles of cash to help her family, and maybe get her dad to remember she exists?
Final thoughts: Upper-elementary book and it shows. Officially, Olivia is 12, but seems to have the emotions of an 8-year-old and the extreme trivia knowledge of a 20-year-old who studies trivia 24/7. Her obliviousness to her dad's treatment of her and her brother is sometimes annoying, like you want to reach through the book and shake her a little while you shout, "He's a gambling addict! He cares more about the high of winning than he does about YOU! Neil is the dad you SHOULD have! Pay attention!!!!" The book ends a little suddenly and there are a few unresolved issues left hanging, which is frustrating. Children of divorced parents, especially those struggling through these tough financial times, will appreciate many of Olivia's problems and be able to relate to those.