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WHAT ARE YOU READING?

The MoneyStanBig Lauren and Me

by Joanna Nadin

Billy Grimshaw-Jones used to be Billy Grimshaw but then his mother married Dave so now the family’s double-barrelled. Which makes them sound posh and rich, but they aren’t. They’re average. Dave’s a nurse, his mum works at Jetways, and his little brother Stan is into Lady GaGa. Billy thinks a lot and worries even more. He used to count the glow-in-the-dark stars on his ceiling when he got really anxious, but soon he’ll be going to secondary school and in secondary school if you have glow-in-the-dark stars on your ceiling someone will stick your head in the toilet so he took them down.

Nonetheless, things are getting better for the Grimshaw-Joneses, giving Billy less to worry about. His mum’s having a baby, and they’re moving to a much bigger house with four bedrooms, so he and Stan won’t have to share. And then Nan’s friend Brenda reads Billy’s tea leaves and predicts that everything’s going to go wrong. Which it does. Mum loses her job, they can’t move to a bigger house, they have to cut back and shop at the cheap store, and now they’re poor.

Billy doesn’t want to be poor. So he does what he always does – which is to make a plan. Billy will make his fortune. Billy will save the day. Only, like all of Billy’s plans, this one doesn’t quite go the way he wanted.

Billy is something of an everyboy. He is full of anxiety, insecurity, fear and misinformation. His efforts to understand a baffling and uncontrollable world are both funny and sad – and always familiar. As his stepdad Dave says, “Billy Grimshaw-Jones. You really are a one.” He really is.

The Money, Stan, Big Lauren and Me