Little Willow (slayground) wrote,
Little Willow

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The Fortunes of Indigo Skye by Deb Caletti

Indigo loves being a waitress. When she watches the customers at Carrera's eat and interact, she feels as though she is the conductor of a orchestra, making sure that every instrument is in tune - that every customer is happy. She knows when her regulars (fondly referred to as "The Irregulars") will come in, what they will order and what they will discuss.

Indigo thinks there's a correlation between a person's order and his or her personality. (The book's first sentence reads: "You can tell a lot about people from what they order for breakfast.") When a stranger drives up to the diner on a Vespa, then walks in and orders nothing but coffee, Indigo is intrigued. The gentleman is polite and well-dressed, and he leaves behind a tip that's more than the coffee. The waitress and the regulars are naturally curious about this quiet guy.

Indigo's parents are divorced. Her father lives in Hawaii with his new wife, Jennifer, while Indigo shares her home with her twin brother Severin, her younger sister Bex, her absentminded mother, a chatty parrot named Chico, and a sneaky cat named Freud. The snappy dialogue that zings back and forth between the Skyes makes it apparent that they love each other and know each other better than anyone else. Even though money has been tight since their father/husband left, their home is a happy one.

"Vespa guy" comes into Carrera's a few more times, politely ordering coffee and saying very little otherwise. When she spies a pack of cigarettes in the pocket of his expensive suede jacket, Indigo can't help but tell him about the dangers of smoking. Her words are motivated by concern, not by moral superiority, and she hopes he knows she is being genuine, not judgmental.

A short while later, she gets a phone call from her boss, Jane, telling her that Vespa guy left an envelope for his waitress. Indigo doesn't open the envelope immediately upon receipt, partially due to other things going on, partially because she wants to delay any sort of letdown feeling. Nothing could match the anticipation she's feeling (or so she thinks), and once she looks inside, the wonder and the excitement of waiting will be gone. Later that night, when she finally opens the envelope, she discovers a check made out to her for two and a half million dollars.

At first, she doesn't quite believe it. Confused, excited, and stunned, she wants to find Vespa guy, thank him, and give him back his check. She can't accept that much money from someone she barely knows. Meanwhile, each of her family members and friends have different ideas for how she can spend the money. Her mom wants her to go to college. Her boyfriend wants to fix his car. Her sister wants to donate money to relief efforts. For a short time, Indigo allows herself to buy her family nice things they've never had - and some things they'll never even use - but ultimately, she feels more burdened than blessed by the money.

When she finally tracks down Vespa guy - which is quite a journey, literally - to thank him and tell him she can't accept his generous gift, her refusal of the money only makes him more certain that she deserves it. He explains why he gave it to her in the first place: because she thinks "why me?" instead of "why not me?"

This book is packed with unique, memorable folks. In Indigo and her family, Deb Caletti has created some of her most down-to-earth characters. Indigo gently teases her mother about her "anxiety-denial-distraction." Indigo's twin Severin is sensible and considerate, and her loyal boyfriend Trevor is so in tune with all of their lives that he is almost part of the family. Little sister Bex is compassionate and loveable. After watching news reports on CNN, she worries about those who have lost their homes due to natural disasters. Indigo's friend Melanie, who is sweet but has always had money, is quick to think Indigo can and wants to do everything Melanie does once that she finally can afford it. The quadripeds really don't care about the money; it doesn't make Chico less chatty or Freud less sneaky.

Indigo considers many of the Irregulars, along with her boss, to be her friends. Jane, the owner of Carrera's (and of Jack, an adorable dog) hates to pull the boss card, but will if she has to. The regulars are all older than Indigo. Each has his or her own backstory and quirks. Nick Harrison has been haunted by rumors since his wife fell down a flight of stairs and died two years ago. Tattooed Leroy is perhaps thirty years old, yet he's anxious to retire. Joe used to be a boxer. Funny Coyote and Trina, both in their late twenties, are the resident ladies. Funny's a poet who has no problem cleaning her plate or talking about her "chemical imbalance," while flirty Trina dresses to the nines and drives a classic Thunderbird.

If you couldn't already tell, I really enjoyed this book. There's more whimsy here than in some of Caletti's previous novels, but never to an unrealistic degree. This isn't yet another rags-to-riches tale, nor "a simple story of money can't buy happiness." This book is about a girl on the cusp of adulthood who actually likes her life and doesn't really want it to change that much. She would rather be poor and happy than wealthy and miserable. Indigo has a great set of values and a great sense of self. Those are her true fortunes.

Learn more about Deb Caletti in our exclusive interview.

Read my reviews of all of Deb Caletti's novels in this author spotlight.
Tags: books, cybils, reviews

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