In Brooklyn, New York, in 2005, Ellen Portinari buys a lottery ticket on a whim; not long after, she realizes she’s won a hundred-million-dollar jackpot. With a month to redeem the ticket, she tells no one but her alcoholic brother—a talented composer whose girlfriend has died in a terrorist attack abroad—about her preposterous good luck.
As the clock ticks, Ellen caroms from incredulity to giddiness to dread as she tries to reckon with the potential consequences of her win. She becomes unexpectedly involved with a man and boy she’s met at her local gym. While she grapples with the burden of secret-keeping and the tug of a new intimacy, a Brooklyn street artist named Blair Talpa is contending with her own challenges: a missing brother, an urge to make art that will “derange orbits,” and a lack of money.
En route to redeem the lottery ticket, Ellen finds her prospects entwining by chance with Blair’s—which allows Ellen to reimagine luck’s relation to loss, and the reader to revel in surprise.
“Buy Me Love is a terrific novel about the eternal confusions of money and our beloved notions of free will—as they play out for one woman with a lottery ticket. It has a superbly believable romance, crooked family histories, and a sneaky double plot. Readers drawn in by its sharpness and originality will find themselves richly rewarded by its striking turns.”—Joan Silber, author of Improvement
“Money—its seductive force, the love of it, its weird immaterial nature, the good it can do, and the risk that having it could obliterate who you are—is everyone’s suave adversary in Martha Cooley’s penetrating novel. She has drawn each of these characters with striking uniqueness. They could all use a bit more money. But it’s the possibility of suddenly having a lot more that fills the story with such danger and hope. If you got everything you wanted, would you still want it? And would you still be you?”—Salvatore Scibona, author of The Volunteer