Monday, June 26, 2006


You may have noticed that I didn't post any bookish news last week. (Or maybe you didn't. Who knows.) Well, it's like this. I got a job (hooray!) but it's in another state (yargh). So all my time is now spent boxing up my approximately 10,000,000 books in order to flee across state lines. I may not be able to post with a book review next Monday, as I'll be wandering around trying to find apartments with sturdy enough floors that I and my entire collection of Madeleine L'engle novels won't fall through the ceiling into somebody else's living room.

However, when things settle down, it'll be back to worm-eating principals and book reviews every Monday like clockwork. Promise.

Book: Millions
Author: Frank Cottrell Bryce
Published: 2004

What would you do with a million? Damian would really like to know, because he’s all out of ideas. See, he’s got a million pounds. It came down from the sky in answer to his prayer. His materialistic brother Anthony is ecstatic, and they’ve suddenly become the stars of the school yard. But with only a few days left before Britain switches to the euro and all that money is rendered useless, (not the mention that the people who lost the money in the first place would really like it back) the brothers are finding out that even a million pounds is way more trouble than it’s worth.

The basic premise is simple enough, but in the end, Millions is not really about money. It’s about grief, about ethics, and about figuring out what’s right and then doing it. The two boys are reacting to and dealing with their mother’s death in drastically different ways: Damian by absorbing every iota of information he can about saints’ lives, Anthony by knowing the value of money really, really well. Perhaps the trickiest element of this story is Damian's conversations with saints like Claire of Assisi, St. Peter, and even St. Joseph. In the hands of many authors, maybe even most authors, this would have come out cloying, weird, stuff-it-down-your-throat religious, or just implying that Damian is really cracking up. But Bryce handles it lightly and deftly, bringing out the human side of the saints and making Damian's asking for their advice a normal child's desire for guidance by respected adults.

The story behind the story is almost as interesting. Bryce wrote Millions as a screenplay first, and then adapted it into a novel which came out simultaneously or just before the movie. The movie is as charming and possibly even more magical in tone than the book, although it did leave some important bits out.

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