Monday, October 5, 2009

Breaking the Bank

Publisher's Summary.

Mia Saul is down on her luck. Dumped by her husband, jettisoned from her job, and estranged from her adored older brother, she and her young daughter, Eden, have had to make a downscale move to a crummy apartment, where their neighbors include a tough young drug dealer and a widower who lets his dogs use the hallways as their own personal litter box. Juggling a series of temporary jobs, wrangling with her ex-husband over child support, and trying to keep pace with Eden's increasingly erratic behavior have left Mia weary and worn out.


So when a seemingly functional ATM starts handing Mia thousands and thousands of dollars -- and not deducting the money from her account, because it sure isn't in there -- she isn't about to give it back. Her newfound cash stash opens up a world of opportunity, and a whole lot of trouble. Worried friends, family, and in-laws start questioning her judgment about everything, and the cops really, really want to know where all that cash is coming from. And then there's Patrick, a man Mia most definitely would never have met if things hadn't spun out of control. Mia is beginning to think that maybe somebody, somewhere, is trying to teach her a lesson about what matters in life, and what doesn't....

Review.A parent once told the following story: His young son wanted a new toy. The father explained that he was sorry, but he didn’t have the money for the toy. The little boy replied, “Daddy go to the wall. There is money from the wall.” The wall, of course, was the ATM machine and what the little boy didn’t grasp was that “the wall” only released what the father had in his bank account. Long after the little boy had grown up his bemused father still enjoyed telling the money from the wall story.

Breaking the Bank by Yona Zeldis McDonough is based on the same magical wall: an ATM releases unaccounted for money, in ever greater amounts, to the struggling single mom Mia. The story then follows the consequences of the magical money on Mia and those around her. Breaking the Bank is a delightful, magical, tale for any woman who has ever struggled to pay her bills or was unable to provide the desired lifestyle for her child. That is, virtually every woman can relate to the story on some level.

In addition, to being a magical fairy tale Breaking the Bank also weaves some serious philosophical musing into the story. Consider for instance this passage: “Garbage, she realized, was the natural consequence of money. The more money you had, the more garbage, the better garbage, you could produce. Lobster shells and artichoke leaves, empty champagne bottles by the score, the rinds of rich imported cheeses. Bags, tissue paper, and ribbons from exclusive shops in Paris, London, New York, Rio, Tokyo; elegant, robin’s-egg blue boxes from Tiffany’s that held gold rings, collars of diamonds. This was not just any garbage – it was expensive, tasteful, high-class garbage. Would that man on the street be able to produce such garbage? Would she? Not now, of course, but given enough money, anyone could. Money and garbage, garbage and money. There was a relationship between the two . . . .”

Breaking the Bank is an engaging, fanciful, story that may just change your views on that most taboo of all subjects – money.


  1. Sounds like a fun book. I haven't heard of it before. Now I'm dreaming of the ATM giving me a bunch of money, though.

  2. This sounds like a good book. I've never thought of how money determines what kind of garbage you can produce and that more money allows for fancier garbage. It's an interesting way to look at wealth!

  3. I think I would really like this one. Your review was great.

  4. This one sounds terrific. I need to check it out!