Olivia Bean: Trivia Queen by Donna Gephart
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Length: Full Length (278 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 8+
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Reviewed by Honeysuckle
Olivia Bean knows trivia. She watches Jeopardy! every night, and usually beats at least one of the contestants! If only she were better at geography, she would try out for kids' Jeopardy! Not only could she win bundles of money, she could go out to tape it in California where her dad, who left their family two years ago and whom she misses like crazy, lives with his new family.
But one day Olivia's friend-turned-nemesis, Tucker, offers to help Olivia bulk up her geography knowledge. Before she knows it, she's getting help from all sorts of unexpected sources: her almost-stepdad, superannoying Neil; her genius brother, Charlie; even her stressed out mom. Soon she's breezed through the audition rounds and is headed for the taping in Hollywood. But will the one person she wants to impress more than anything—her dad—show up to support her?
What is family? Ask Olivia at the beginning of this book and she would say her mom, Little Bother (uh, brother) and her dad, who happens to live several states over with his new family. It would NOT include Neil. No way, no how!
If only life was as structured as a game show. Olivia Bean is smart. Really smart. Could-win-at-Jeopardy!- if-she-could-just-earn-a-spot-on-their-kid’s-week-show smart. Best of all, she would make her dad proud and he would come see her, and maybe Neil would go away and maybe her little brother would be less of a Little Bother…if only.
Children think on such simple terms. If only this one big thing could happen, the rest of the world would fall into place and things would be perfect. Olivia Bean: Trivia Queen is a coming of age story for 12 year old Olivia. At a very pivotal point in her life, her world, as she has known it, is totally turned upside down. Sure her mom and dad fought, regularly, but she never imagined there would be a time that she wouldn’t get to sit down with her dad and watch their favorite show together.
I really liked how Ms. Gephart created this character. I have a ten year old daughter and it was so easy to relate to how Olivia viewed the world. I could see/hear my daughter saying some of the same things Olivia said and with just as much attitude. Watching Olivia grow and mature as the book progresses was a joy. From the beginning where her goal is to avoid her mother’s live in boyfriend, Neil, and not kill her annoying little brother to when she realizes the true definition of family.
What is family? By the end of the book it was easy to see that Olivia had faced some tough truths and learned more about what’s important in life. She has an incredible support system right under her own roof and the very same person she thought she could never talk to, much less befriend, is the one who becomes her closest ally.
This was a really fun book. It was a story within a story that highlighted the value found in family (even an unconventional one) and friends. Young readers as well as adults who simply like to keep up with what their children are reading will enjoy this book.