Review: Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Olivia Bean, Trivia QueenOlivia Bean, Trivia Queen by Donna Gephart
Published by Delacorte BFYR on March 13, 2012
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 288
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley

Olivia Bean knows trivia. She watches Jeopardy! every night and usually beats at least one of the contestants. If she were better at geography, she would try out for the show’s kids’ week. Not only could she win bundles of money, she’d get to go to the taping in California, where her dad, who left two years ago and who Olivia misses like crazy, lives with his new family.

One day Olivia’s friend-turned-nemesis, Tucker, offers to help her bulk up her geography knowledge. Before Olivia knows it, she’s getting help from all sorts of unexpected sources: her almost-stepdad, superannoying Neil; her genius little brother, Charlie; even her stressed-out mom. Soon she has breezed through the audition rounds and is headed for Hollywood! But will the one person she wants to impress more than anyone else show up to support her?

I can totally relate to Olivia, because I definitely watched a lot of Jeopardy! in my childhood years, although I was not nearly as good at it as she is. Unfortunately, I definitely suffer from brain freeze (and not the kind you get from drinking something cold). I really liked the basic storyline, focusing around her quest to win Kids Jeopardy!, and to improve her life along the way. Olivia’s a little tightly-wound, but I suppose that’s what I expected from a girl dealing with a new stepdad, the neglect of her biological father, and the slight bullying of her classmates.

Her stepdad is a librarian! He’s not quiet like so many fictional librarians are; actually, he sings really loud a lot, which is, from my personal experience, very true of the best librarians. Unfortunately, this loud singing can sometimes interrupt jeopardy. Rude!

Olivia totally hero-worships her dad, which is rather unfortunate, considering how obvious it is that he is awful. The whole reason Olivia cannot remember geography is because of his programming. He was no good at it, so he told her she wasn’t either, probably because he didn’t want a kid to beat him at Jeopardy!, which he probably views as his thing. Way to hold your kid back!

Every chapter title is phrased in the form of a question, like any proper Jeopardy!-themed story should be. Of course, the book isn’t only about Jeopardy!; it also focuses on divorce, friendship, and the awkwardness of middle school flirting. Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen is a cute story, full of fun facts. Now I kind of wish I were smart enough to try out for Jeopardy!!

One response to “Review: Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen”

  1. Nori says:

    This sounds so cute! I feel like parents have been tending to come off as awful lately in children’s and YA lit though. Are good characters not allowed to have loving parents?

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