Richer by Jean Blasiar

RicherReviewed by Douglas R. Cobb

Guess who’s back, he’s back again! No, it’s not the Real Slim Shady, it’s Rich Cameron, the main character of Jean Blasiar’s Poor Rich, in her latest novel in the series about the now fifteen-year-old’s life, Richer. Can a teen with asthma, a heart condition, divorced parents, and a gay father who lives with his lover, find happiness and success in life? Yeah, he can, if he also writes songs for the rock band Apollo, is friends with one of the school’s jocks (Huey), and has one of the coolest pets with one of the coolest pet names ever, the parrot U2!

Is Richer as good as the excellent introduction to the series of novels featuring Rich Cameron? Let’s face it; often, sequels just aren’t as good as the first book in a series, and sometimes, they downright suck! But, not to fear–Richer is also a great novel, a fun, feel-good read that will leave you wanting to read even more about Rich’s on-going adventures and life. It’s not only as good as the first novel–IMHO, it’s even better! This is because, though I enjoyed reading the second half of Poor Rich, which is primarily made up of short stories that Rich wrote, Richer is entirely about Rich’s life and exploits, so to me, it is even better, because it flows better, and Rich’s life is a pretty interesting one, with rarely a dull moment in it.

What makes Richer a fantastic book, one that you shouldn’t hesitate plucking down your money for through this web site, or at a bookstore? I like the sense of optimism that pervades the novel, the feeling that despite some of the travails and problems Rich faces, there are enough pleasant, happy, and–dare I say it?–enriching moments to outweigh the negative things he faces. He becomes stronger inside for enduring such problems, like when some teens at his school taunt him by calling him derogatory names like Fag (he isn’t one, not that that’s important), because his father is gay, and because he has asthma and loves literature and creative writing.

Also, something else I liked about this sequel is that Rich’s Mom finally kicks his stepfather, Steve, out of the house, and divorces him. He let his macho behavior control him too much, and I didn’t like it when he ridiculed or belittled Rich. Perhaps Rich was made the stronger and better person for it. Steve’s behavior was one of the hurdles Rich had to overcome in the first book, so he served as one more obstacle; but, other than that, and that he was another way for Rich to grow as a person, I didn’t particularly care for him.

Because of the divorce from Steve, Rich and his mother move to a new, but smaller, house but he still attends Madison High School. Farnsworth, his analyst, still plays an important role in the novel as she does in Poor Rich, and she helps Rich cope with the everyday conflicts and turmoils he encounters. This includes his confiding in her about his kind of odd relationship with his former au pair, Gia, who is also a former centerfold model. On the one hand, she’s quite beautiful, and he’d like to maintain contact with her; but, on the other, she’s a bit older than he is, has gotten arrested for solicitation, and because of these two things, Farnsworth tells Rich he should not have anything to do with her anymore.

We learn more about Rich’s father, Dan, in this sequel, and also more about the background of his lover, Brian. Brian becomes a more integral character, and more three-dimensional, as a result. He has made a bundle of money investing wisely, and one of the investments happens to be in one of Rich’s favorite rock groups, Apollo. Brain sees potential in Rich, believing he could be a great poet and song writer as well as a fantastic writer of short stories, so he takes nine lines of what he calls a poem to the lead singer of Apollo to look at. The guy thinks the poem is really good, and sets it to music, asking Rich to come up with more of the song, called “Shattered Lives.” They record it, and make a video, and Rich gets to share the royalties.

What’s more, Rich still tutors some students, and one of them that gets recommended to him is Amy Carter (not the former President’s daughter, but a different Amy Carter), who is an Olympic caliber skater. Her Dad pushes her hard, and she practices long hours; but, there is enough time for a relationship to bud between her and Rich, which I hope continues in the next book of the series, whenever that comes out. I won’t tell you what happens to her–I don’t want to include too many spoilers in this review–but, she’s a really nice addition to the novel, and I enjoyed reading about her.

Richer by Jean Blasiar is a fantastic feel-good book that will make you laugh, maybe cry, and sometimes want to LOL. It can be read as a stand-alone book–you don’t need to have read Poor Rich to get into and enjoy reading it–but, I recommend that you read Poor Rich if you haven’t yet, because it’s a great book, also. Blasiar is the author of middle school novels, as well, like the Emma Budd series of books, featuring the teen Emma Budd, a Nancy Drew-like detective, and her friends, and Harry the dog. I’ve reviewed one of these novels elsewhere at this site. Jean Blasiar is a talented author, who is also a playwright and a screenwriter. I highly recommend that if you’re looking for a really great novel to read, you should definitely add Richer to your personal library!

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