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Margo’s Got Money Troubles by Rufi Thorpe

Literary fiction

Margo’s Got Money Troubles

Repeat author

Rufi Thorpe is back at Book of the Month – other BOTMs include The Knockout Queen.

by Rufi Thorpe

Excellent choice

Excellent choice

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Quick take

Affairs, pro wrestlers, NSFW internet content, oh my! Follow the rollicking journey of a young mother making ends meet.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, LOL

    LOL

  • Illustrated icon, Salacious

    Salacious

  • Illustrated icon, Underdog

    Underdog

  • Illustrated icon, Mama_Drama

    Mama drama

Synopsis

As the child of a Hooters waitress and an ex-pro wrestler, Margo Millet’s always known she’d have to make it on her own. So she enrolls at her local junior college, even though she can’t imagine how she’ll ever make a living. She’s still figuring things out and never planned to have an affair with her English professor—and while the affair is brief, it isn’t brief enough to keep her from getting pregnant. Despite everyone’s advice, she decides to keep the baby, mostly out of naïveté and a yearning for something bigger.

Now, at twenty, Margo is alone with an infant, unemployed, and on the verge of eviction. She needs a cash infusion—fast. When her estranged father, Jinx, shows up on her doorstep and asks to move in with her, she agrees in exchange for help with childcare. Then Margo begins to form a plan: she’ll start an OnlyFans as an experiment, and soon finds herself adapting some of Jinx’s advice from the world of wrestling. Like how to craft a compelling character and make your audience fall in love with you. Before she knows it, she’s turned it into a runaway success. Could this be the answer to all of Margo’s problems, or does internet fame come with too high a price?

Blisteringly funny and filled with sharp insight, Margo’s Got Money Troubles is a tender tale starring an endearing young heroine who’s struggling to wrest money and power from a world that has little interest in giving it to her. It’s a playful and honest examination of the art of storytelling and controlling your own narrative, and an empowering portrait of coming into your own, both online and off.

Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of Margo’s Got Money Troubles.

Margo’s Got Money Troubles

CHAPTER ONE

You are about to begin reading a new book, and to be honest, you are a little tense. The beginning of a novel is like a first date. You hope that from the first lines an urgent magic will take hold, and you will sink into the story like a hot bath, giving yourself over entirely. But this hope is tempered by the expectation that, in reality, you are about to have to learn a bunch of people’s names and follow along politely like you are attending the baby shower of a woman you hardly know. And that’s fine, goodness knows you’ve fallen in love with books that didn’t grab you in the first paragraph. But that doesn’t stop you from wishing they would, from wishing they would come right up to you in the dark of your mind and kiss you on the throat.

Margo’s baby shower was hosted by the owner of the restaurant where she worked, Tessa, who thought it would be funny if the cake was shaped like a big dick, maybe because Margo wasn’t married, was nineteen, and couldn’t even drink, or because it was her professor who’d knocked her up. Tessa was an accomplished baker. She made all the restaurant’s desserts herself and went all out on the penis cake: a hand-carved 3D phallus, twelve layers of sponge swirled in matte pink icing. She installed a hand pump, and after they sang For she’s gonna have a huge baby to the tune of “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow,” after Margo blew out the candles—why? it wasn’t her birthday—Tessa gave the pump a sharp squeeze, and white pudding spurted out of the top and dribbled down the sides. Tessa whooped with glee. Margo pretended to laugh and later cried in the bathroom.

Margo knew Tessa had made the cake because she loved her. Tessa was both a mean and loving person. Once when Tessa found out the salad boy had no sense of taste or smell because he’d almost been beaten to death in his teens, she served him a plate of shaving cream and potting soil, telling him it was a new dessert. He ate two big bites before she stopped him.

Margo knew Tessa was trying to make light of a situation that was not happy. Turning tragedy into carnival was kind of her thing. But it seemed unfair that the only love available to Margo was so inadequate and painful.

Margo’s mom, Shyanne, had told Margo that she should have an abortion. Her professor had been hysterical for Margo to have an abortion. In fact, she wasn’t sure she wanted the baby so much as she wanted to prove to them both that they could not bend her conveniently to their will. It had never occurred to her that if she took this position, they might simply interact with her less. Or, in the case of the professor, stop interacting with her altogether.

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Why I love it

I fell in love with this novel from its first sentence: “You are about to begin reading a new book, and to be honest, you are a little tense.” This was the perfect introduction to our guiding voice, Margo, who is by turns wry and funny, vulnerable and wise.

At the beginning of the book, we find Margo in a desperate situation: nineteen, pregnant by her college professor (who wants nothing to do with her or the baby), and in a tenuous financial position now that she has childcare to worry about. So she gets creative. Margo has heard that people can make good money on OnlyFans, and she likes the idea of a job she can do from the comfort of her own home. Coincidentally, her estranged father—an ex-wrestler—shows up at her door, asking for a place to stay, letting her check childcare off her list, too. But things only get more complicated when she achieves unexpected Internet fame, and suddenly everyone seems to have an opinion on how Margo makes her money.

The stakes here couldn’t be higher for Margo: feed her baby and keep him safe. But beyond this clear-cut premise are juicy, complex ideas about what makes people “good” or “bad,” what it means to be independent, the ethics of sex work, and a whole lot of complicated family dynamics. Margo’s Got Money Troubles is unique, moving, hilarious, and whip-smart. I have not stopped thinking about Margo since reading it, and I promise you won’t either.

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Literary fiction
View all
Real Americans
Wellness
Margo’s Got Money Troubles
Same As It Ever Was
Annie Bot
Mercury
True Biz
The Husbands
The Lady Waiting
The Other Valley
Hard by a Great Forest
Good Material
The Bullet Swallower
Alice Sadie Celine
Let Us Descend
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow
Banyan Moon
Shark Heart
Transcendent Kingdom
Hello Beautiful
Dominicana
What's Mine and Yours
The Unsettled
Ask Again, Yes
Vladimir
Infinite Country
The Prophets
Normal People
The Verifiers
Salvage the Bones
The Many Daughters of Afong Moy
I Have Some Questions for You
Black Buck
The History of Love
Age of Vice
Paper Names
The Light Pirate
The Secret History
The Kite Runner
Memorial
The Half Moon
Happiness Falls
The Gifted School
The Death of Vivek Oji
The Knockout Queen
Little Monsters
Yerba Buena
Beautiful World, Where Are You
Free Food for Millionaires
A Burning
The Mothers
The Water Dancer
Small Country
The Sympathizer
Fleishman Is in Trouble
Lot
An American Marriage
The Animators
The Leavers
The Mars Room
Exit West
The Windfall
White Fur
Woman No. 17
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness
Eat Only When You're Hungry
Rainbirds
A Ladder to the Sky
Golden Child
The Goldfinch
The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P
& Sons
The Association of Small Bombs
Lolly Willowes
All Grown Up
Marlena
Signal Fires
Someday, Maybe
Woman of Light
Marrying the Ketchups
The Shards