Saturday, June 01, 2019

Very Rich, by Polly Horvath

Rupert's family is unbelievably poor.  He doesn't own a coat and he has to sleep under the bed with his brothers.  His family subsists on oatmeal and kitchen scraps that they scavenge.  He dreams of growing up to become someone special so he can help his family.  But when he can't even get a hamburger, how is he ever going to manage something big and life-changing?

Then at Christmas, as the result of a series of random events, he finds himself a guest with the Rivers family -- people who are the opposite of him (i.e., the very rich).  They feed him more food than he's ever seen and lavish him with presents.  But then suddenly all of it is taken away and Rupert is sent home with nothing but fond memories and a full stomach.

That is not the end of it.  In the months that follow, individual members of the family show up and take Rupert away on adventures:  cooking at a fancy restaurant, traveling through time and across the country, and even visiting the White House with the future president.  Not that any of it manages to get Rupert a hamburger, let alone a way to help his family.

A clever and witty story that is very much in the style of Lemony Snicket. It is largely nonsensical and probably best enjoyed as silliness.  The tone is dry and droll and taken literally more than a bit cruel and mean.  But if you like these stories (think Willy Wonka or Series of Unfortunate Events) then you will probably enjoy this one as well.  For myself, I have trouble with its cruelty.

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