Perry L. Crandall is not retarded, he’s just slow. You have to have an IQ of 70, or even 75, to be retarded, and Perry’s IQ is 76. He was raised by his grandparents because his father was unavailable and his mother couldn’t be bothered. He learns 5 words every morning at breakfast, and has no trouble remembering, but a very hard time not forgetting, so he keeps a list of the things that he must not forget. He lives in Everett Washington and works at the boat supply store that his grandfather used to own. He has won a twelve million dollar lottery, and now his no-good brothers are anxious to help him ‘manage’ all that money.
Lottery is not the best, but is the most enjoyable novel I have read in a long time. The author, Patricia Woods, does an excellent job of creating a story that is suspenseful without being weighty. She also does a good job of getting inside Perry’s mind, probing the boundary between what he understands and what he does not. Perry could have been an annoying character, but Woods keeps bringing us back to Perry’s perspective, making us understand that his choices are driven as much by his values as by his limitations.
Lottery is a little rough around the edges. There is a sequence that takes place in Hawaii that seems out of balance. Woods currently lives in Hawaii, and she apparently could not resist the idea of setting part of her novel there. But that’s just a small problem that doesn’t detract in any significant way from the main storyline.