99 Cent Deal by E. B. Sullivan begins with Ruth mulling over her musings at work, and it feels like she is speaking directly to the reader...kind of like a conversation one might have to pass the time when business is slow. Sullivan makes it easy to connect with the cashier, as if the reader is in the store with Ruth.
While she's working, a piece of eye candy walks in and drops a cashier's check on the way out. Ruth proceeds to have one hell of an internal struggle about keeping it. Her drive to Vegas is full of suspense, and I began to freak out along with Ruth. Despite her good fortune, I grew more anxious with every chapter. Ruth's choices disappointed me to say the least. The ending came as a surprise.
When I first began reading for fun as a child, my favorite genres were mythology and fables...stories with lessons. On occasion, I found the moral of the story to be debatable. There were always lessons to be learned, but sometimes I disagreed with which ones were more important. I suppose my discomfort with certain aspects of a story influenced my take on the ending.
I once read a story about a monkey bride, with a "don't judge a book by its cover" theme, but it ends with the bride becoming beautiful after she is thrown into a wall. One Thousand and One Nights has a story about a guy's fart...still unsure about the lesson. Don't even get me started on myths: damned if you do, damned if don't...life is basically the result of a series of mistakes.