Death by Toilet Paper by Donna Gephart
Seventh-grade Ben Epstein lost his dad to cancer, so it's just been him and his mom for about a year. Ben is totally into sweepstakes. He is constantly entering them and he's not too bad at them. Ben has won hats, t-shirts, coupons for free items and even a gas grill. Ben and his mom are trying to fulfill Dad's Grand Plan for Mom to pass her four CPA (Certified Public Accountant) exams in order for her to get a good job which will give her and Ben a better life. Life has been hard since Dad died, but they have not deviated from the plan. Now they are in trouble because they have had to cancel their phone service, sell their computer, and carefully watch their money. They are behind on their rent and are being threatened with eviction.
Ben decides to enter the Royal-T Toilet Paper Company's jingle sweepstake where he can win $10,000 and help keep his family in their apartment. Ben is surrounded by great people in his life, which helps him keep a great attitude most of the time. Toothpick is Ben's best friend, who loves to make horror movies. Mrs. Schneckle is his neighbor who helps out Ben and his mom when she can. Then there is Zeyde Jake who moves in with them, but Ben's grandfather is showing signs of early Alzheimer's.
It was the title that got me. Who wouldn't pick up a book entitled Death by Toilet Paper? Just the thought intrigued me. The story wasn't what I expected; it was totally better and I didn't want to put it down because I needed to know what happened to the characters. The book made me laugh, it made me tear up, and it made me care about all of the characters. Oh, and each chapter started with some extra tidbits about toilets and toilet paper. Very cool!