Breaking the Bank

Breaking the Bank

A fresh and whimsical novel featuring a single mother in Brooklyn who suddenly discovers an ATM machine that gives her free (and unrecorded) cash; what she does with that money changes many lives—including her own.

Mia Saul is down on her luck. She’s been dumped by her husband, fired from her job, and forced to move with her ten-year-old daughter Eden to a crummy apartment. Juggling temp jobs, arguing over child support, and trying to keep Eden’s increasingly erratic behavior in check leaves Mia weary and worn out. So when a routine stop at an ATM turns into a stroke of luck Mia never expected, the results are nothing short of...magical.

Teetering between guilt and generosity, Mia takes advantage of her sudden windfall in small ways. She also develops relationships with a variety of neighborhood characters she ordinarily would never have crossed paths with—and turns her life around in ways she never thought possible.

Poignant, smart, and utterly captivating, this quirky "pay-it-forward" tale captures the everyday concerns of women everywhere.
  • Pocket Books | 
  • 368 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781439126998 | 
  • September 2009
List Price $9.99 (price may vary by retailer)

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Breaking the Bank includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Yona Zeldis McDonough. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book. 



Harried single mom Mia Saul tries to juggle her career, personal life, and raising her ten-year-old daughter, Eden, with not-so-great results. After her husband, Lloyd, leaves her for a manicurist, Mia struggles to regain some semblance of a normal life, but when her ex conveniently leaves the country and forgets to send child support, she finds herself scrambling to make ends meet. When she discovers a bank machine that bestows free money, Mia decides that she will share the wealth with those who need it as badly as she does.


Questions for Discussion

1. Mia finds a magical ATM that dispenses free money. Do you think Mia made good decisions about dispersing the money? What would you do if you ever found such a machine?

2. The author opens the novel with the following epigraphs: “Money doesn’t talk, it swears,” a line from Bob Dylan; and “Money talks, all right. It says good-bye,” from author Richard Russo. Why see more

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About the Author

Yona Zeldis McDonough
Photo Credit: Keith Price

Yona Zeldis McDonough

Yona Zeldis McDonough is the author of  the novels THE FOUR TEMPERAMENTS and IN DAHLIA’S WAKE. She is also the editor of the essay collections THE BARBIE CHRONICLES: A LIVING DOLL TURNS FORTY and ALL THE AVAILABLE LIGHT: A MARILYN MONROE READER. Her short fiction, articles, and essays have been published in anthologies as well as in numerous national magazines, and newspapers. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.