Indigo Skye works as a waitress in Seattle. Her family is poor but fun, and Indigo loves the life she’s in right now. But then things change. A customer she barely knows from the restaurant where she works leaves her a tip. For 2.5 million dollars.
The setup for this book sounds almost too typical – poor girl receives a huge amount of money unexpectedly and of course that means everything’s going to change. She will undoubtedly go through the same things that every book or movie on this topic covers. There will be mass spending or hoarding. There will be identity issues. There will be problems with people who want to use you for your money. And so on. The formula is fairly set. This book, however, was Deb Caletti’s, and I have high respect for Ms. Caletti’s writing. Nothing is ever simple or formulaic about her books, so I went in knowing that something about Fortunes would be different. Near the end of the book, Indigo has the following to say which really sums things up for me:
This is not just a simple story of Money can’t buy happiness. Or maybe that’s just what it is. And if it is, why shouldn’t it be? Because if this is something we are already supposed to know, then why don’t we know it? Why do we chase and scrabble and fight for things to flaunt, why? Why do we reach for power over other people, and through the thin superiority of our possessions, believe we have it? Why do we let money make people bigger, and allow those without it to be made smaller? How did we lose the truth in the frantic, tribal drumbeat of more, more, more?
Once again, I was very impressed by Caletti. The story is simple here, but the people within it are not. I loved Indigo’s family, which in many ways reminded me of my own childhood – not enough money, living with a divorced mother, all crammed into a small, rented house, crazy pets that everyone loves despite their craziness and cost, even a crazy speaking bird that reminds me of the cockatoo that I grew up with (and my mom still has)! This is what Caletti does so well. She makes her characters human. Real. Complex and unheroic. They’re just people, full to brim with their own quirkiness.
I also love that this is not just the story of a teenager coming into a lot of money. It’s many peoples’ story. The best thing about Caletti’s work to me is that it straddles that line between YA and Adult, dealing with older teens (17-19 years old) and also with the other people around them. Fortunes is as much Indigo’s mother’s story, or Indigo’s father’s story, or the story of the man who gave her the 2.5 million dollars. It’s the story of rich middle-aged men and women all trying to prove they belong in the crowd. It’s the story of people who feel trapped by their circumstances and weighed down by the mundane. It’s the story of an image versus the reality of that image.
What would you do if you suddenly had 2.5 million dollars to spend? I’m sure we all have some grand ideas, as well as some selfish ones, but if those dreams became reality, would you stick to that plan? I loved this quote from the book:
We think a lot about not having. When we don’t have and we think about not having, it’s called dreaming. When we do have and think about not having, it’s called greed.
Just one of many revelations that Indigo has throughout her process of shifting from her old life to her new one. How many of us would stick to those old dreams, and how many of us would create new ones? Bigger ones? It was really interesting to see the shift (for better or for worse) that each of the characters made when touched by this sudden fortune.
The Fortunes of Indigo Skye got me thinking about a lot of things. It’s not my favorite of the Caletti books I’ve read, but that’s only because the other two were both so powerful, they would have been hard to top. Still, I was impressed, and Caletti continues as one of my favorite modern authors.