Avery Grambs is down on her luck. Her mother is dead; her father is estranged. Avery's half-sister and legal guardian is dating an abusive loser, so Avery's been living out of her car. The plan is to finish high school with the best possible grades and test scores in order to go to college and start a new, better life. Everything changes on the day she is called into the principal's office and informed she has been named an heir in the will of the richest man in Texas: Tobias Hawthorne.
Avery has never met Tobias or any other member of the Hawthorne family. She can't fathom why she would inherit anything from a total stranger, but when the will is read, Avery is stunned to learn she's inherited almost his entire fortune. Billions of dollars, a massive estate, professional sports teams, charitable foundations, the works. The only catch is she must live in the Hawthorne mansion for a year before gaining control of all the assets — a simple enough task, until the rest of the Hawthorne family is taken into account. Avery will have to live with them for the year and not a single family member is happy to hear about some random girl being named the primary heir. The four Hawthorne grandsons are convinced Tobias Hawthorne, a notorious fan of puzzles and games, has left them one final puzzle to solve and Avery is a major piece of that puzzle. As Avery joins forces with the Hawthorne brothers to figure out why she's the one to inherit the fortune, the stakes climb as threats to Avery's well-being emerge. Threats like being shot at, for instance. With the paparazzi breathing down her neck and most of the prime suspects living in her newly-acquired mansion, will Avery even be able to survive long enough to enjoy being one of the richest teens in America?
"The Inheritance Games" by Jennifer Lynn Barnes is a fun, fast-paced mystery that will keep readers guessing. Quick-thinking Avery is a delight as she navigates the path from rags to riches while the Hawthorne brothers are frustrating, endearing, mysterious and funny. The Hawthorne house inherited by Avery is detailed enough to become a character in its own right. Who doesn't love a house full of puzzles and secret passages? The fun doesn't have to end when this book does either; the sequel, "The Hawthorne Legacy," released last month, which is convenient since "The Inheritance Games" leaves readers with one final surprise twist. Fans of books like "The Westing Game" or movies like "Knives Out" will find much to love in this series opener.
Courtney Waters is the teen services manager at the Missouri River Regional Library.