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Book Review: 'Margo’s Got Money Troubles’ tells a tale of modern love and success

This cover image released by William Morrow shows "Margo's Got Money Troubles" by Rufi Thorpe. (William Morrow via AP)

The cover art and title of “Margo’s Got Money Troubles” don’t quite convey the wild ride readers who crack open this new fiction from Rufi Thorpe will take. There’s a reason Apple TV optioned it as a series starring Nicole Kidman and Elle Fanning before it was even published. This is a wholly original novel.

A brief plot summary: Margo gets knocked up at 19 by her community college professor, has the baby, drops out of school, and discovers OnlyFans, where she flashes herself for money and rates the NSFW pics that subscribers send her, giving them each a Pokémon doppelgänger. But wait — there’s more! Her father, Jinx, is a famous professional wrestler, now retired, who actually introduces her to OnlyFans and helps her grow her audience using many of the same techniques that made him a star in the ring.

Meanwhile, her mother, Shyanne, who also had Margo at a young age and now spends considerable time altering her appearance in an effort to attract a man who can provide for her, begs Margo to stop selling visuals of her body for money because, “No man will marry you now.”

If that’s not strange enough, Thorpe also goes a little crazy with the book’s voice. Margo is always the narrator, but switches often from third- to first-person, because, “It is so much easier to have sympathy for the Margo who existed back then rather than try to explain how and why I did all the things that I did.”

It’s a book that grabs and keeps your attention. Who doesn’t want to hear the end of a story that opens with a baby shower featuring a cake shaped like a big penis? Stuffed with laughs, it’s also filled with sharp insights about celebrity, social media, and what modern success even means.

For all her questionable life choices, Margo is someone readers will root for, and the love story that emerges as the heart of the novel — between Margo and one of her OnlyFans — seems quite plausible in the Internet Age.

It wouldn’t be fair to spoil the final two sentences of the book, and curses on any reader who now jumps ahead to them, but Thorpe is both poetic and profound in the way she brings her remarkable story to an end.


AP book reviews:

Rob Merrill, The Associated Press

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