For the second time in a year I read a fiction e-book because its premise is coin-related. This time, I read Wild World by Ginger Rapsus. Rapsus is the author of United States Clad Coinage published in 1992 and is currently a columnist for Numismatic News. Her website says that she began writing fiction “a few years ago.”
Wild World is the story about Stacey Morgan, a nurse’s aide that works in a large Chicago hospital, who inherited an old silver dollar. Not being an expert in coins, Stacey researches the coin on the Internet and begins to realize that she has something special but not sure how special. The coin, an 1873 Seated Liberty Dollar, is something special because none exist except in the world of fiction writers.
After discussing the coin with her friend Peg, a nurse who works on the same hospital ward, Stacey plans to go to a coin show to try to figure out what her coin was worth. The story is woven between Stacey dreaming about a better life away from the grind of being an aide at the hospital and how the grind at the hospital is driving her to find out more about the coin.
Stacey and Peg are young women, both basically starting their respective careers. In some ways, Stacey envies Peg a bit for being a nurse while she was not being treated well as a nurse’s aide. Both women are not only interested with improving their future, hopefully out of that hospital, but finding a life partner.
Not knowing how to approach the coin community at the coin show, Stacey brings Peg for moral support. Both being young women also think about meeting someone interesting at the coin show but Stacey is more interested in finding out the value of her coin. They playfully play their “what if” scenarios as they ride the train to the show.
The women arrive at the coin show and go on their separate ways. Peg is looking for someone to date as Stacey tries to figure out who to talk with about her coin. After roaming the floor for a while, Stacey approaches a dealer who is less than friendly and tries to take advantage of her. While Stacey was being disappointed by this dealer, Jacob Grant, a numismatist with a secret about his real life, steps in and rescues her from this unscrupulous dealer.
Jacob helps Stacey talk with dealer who is an expert on dollars. Ironically, it was a dealer who Stacey discounted talking with because of a mistaken impression she made from the Internet. Stacey showed the dealer the coin and the adventure begins. In a scene that resembles the authentication of the George Walton 1913 Liberty Head Nickel, the unique 1973 Seated Liberty Dollar was considered authentic and became the buzz of the show.
Stacey was overwhelmed with how the coin was received by the people at the show and how she was treated by Jacob. In fact, she began to fall for Jacob. As the story unfolds, Stacey became disturbed by an incident at the coin show involving the first dealer she spoke with which she would learn that misinterpreted. Also, Jacob has a secret life and was worried that his secret was unsavory until she learned he is a professional football player in Chicago.
Wild World is written from the perspective of Stacey Grant, a somewhat naive young woman with no experience in the numismatic world. She has some preconceived notion of the people in that world, but later discovers that while some stereotypes are true, most of the time, the coin world is filled with “normal” people with an interest in coins. For the non-numismatist, this may help change their attitudes on coin people.
As a story, Wild World flows well after the first two pages, which I have described as a “word salad” trying to say too much to set the scene. The story paints a good mental picture that would help both those experienced with coin shows and those who have attended large conferences to imagine how the scene would feel.
After Jacob and Stacey meet, the book handles the relationship building process between these two young people very well. Rapsus does not rush the relationship and keeps the Jacob and Stacey out of bed until the relationship really heats up. When it did come time for the bedroom scene, Rapsus wrote about it in a manner that I think would not be objectionable to most people—basically, not overtly descriptive while giving the reader an idea of the scene. It also helped build on the relationship between Jacob and Stacey that also helped explain how he deals with his secret life.
One lesson that I do not think Rapsus was intending on delivering was that you have to be guarded as to what you learn on the Internet. Stacey’s misinterpretation of what the good dealer had on his website is an example of how researching information online needs to go past single sources. It is also a subtle lesson to dealers that maybe they should consider hiring a non-numismatic editor to understand how those not in the numismatic community sees their public face.
My only real complaint about the book is that Rapsus uses “Clout” as the nickname for the Chicago professional football team while using the real names for other NFL teams that the Clout plays. While the team, stadium, and Chicago landmarks have been fictionalized, not using Bears seemed out of place with the rest of the football-related story.
Wild World is only available in e-book form and available from the popular digital bookstores for $2.99, which is a great price. One of those stores described the book as being 150 pages. While what constitutes a page is different between e-readers, it does come in shorter than many other books I have downloaded making it a comfortable length even for someone who prefers non-fiction, like me. The story is well developed and only part of the ending is predictable. Since this is not a numismatic book but a work of fiction surrounding a numismatic setting, I am giving Wild World a specimen grade of SP67 because the first few pages need to be tightened a bit and the end should have been less predictable. Wild World is underpriced for the quality of the writing and should be on your reading list.