Olivia Bean’s love for Jeopardy! began when she was just a little kid watching along with her dad. Now that she is 12 years old, she is still obsessed with trivia, watches every episode of Jeopardy!, and dreams of being a contestant during Kids’ Week. Olivia’s main problem is that her dad is no longer around to watch with her… or to do anything else, for that matter. He took off a couple of years ago and moved to California with his “new” family. Olivia is trying to adjust to a life in which she and her little brother, Charlie, have to share their mom with their almost-step-dad Neil, but she would much rather fantasize about a way to get her father back. Despite the fact that he abandoned them, and sometimes even forgets to make his weekly phone call to stay in touch, Olivia still idolizes her father. Because she is 12 years old, this is the last year she can try out for Kids’ Week, and she is determined to make it on the show because she is certain that being on Jeopardy! is the best way to win back the attention of her absent father. It’s far from a fool-proof plan, but it can’t hurt to follow a life-long dream and to hope that it solves her family problems too, right?
Topics like divorce, blended families, gambling problems, and layoffs could have easily made this a depressing book, but Gephart managed to infuse enough humor and interesting trivia to keep it relatively light. And, even though the main character is a girl, I think the lack of girl-specific issues and the inclusion of Charlie’s gross trivia tidbits — like the fact that “a cockroach can live without its head for a week” — should be enough to keep tween boys interested.