Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Publisher: Macmillen Childrens Books
Format: E-ARC via Netgalley
Publication Date: 4th May 2017
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Alice doesn’t believe in luck—at least, not the good kind. But she does believe in love, and for some time now, she’s been pining for her best friend, Teddy. On his eighteenth birthday—just when it seems they might be on the brink of something—she buys him a lottery ticket on a lark. To their astonishment, he wins $140 million, and in an instant, everything changes.
At first, it seems like a dream come true, especially since the two of them are no strangers to misfortune. As a kid, Alice won the worst kind of lottery possible when her parents died just over a year apart from each other. And Teddy’s father abandoned his family not long after that, leaving them to grapple with his gambling debts. Through it all, Teddy and Alice have leaned on each other. But now, as they negotiate the ripple effects of Teddy’s newfound wealth, a gulf opens between them. And soon, the money starts to feel like more of a curse than a windfall.
As they try to find their way back to each other, Alice learns more about herself than she ever could have imagined . . . and about the unexpected ways in which luck and love sometimes intersect.
This book was kindly provided to me for honest review by the Publisher via Netgalley. This has not impacted on the content of this review, which it my own honest opinion.
Above all else, Windfall is a coming of age story, told through the point of view of Alice, an 18-year-old high school senior who lives the her Aunt, Uncle and Cousin, after tragically losing both of her parents when she was nine. She is best friends with her cousin Leo and his childhood friend Teddy, who she has been secretly in love with since the beginning of high school. The book opens with Alice picking the numbers for the Lottery ticket she is buying for Teddy’s eighteenth birthday, and takes off from there. From the very start it is clear that Alice has lost a lot, and that it still affects her. It’s also pretty clear how in love with Teddy she is, and the internal conflict this causes.
What I really appreciated about this story was that at its core, it’s about three teenagers working out who they are, who they want to be, and what they want to be doing with their lives. This is something that everyone can relate to, as a teenager you are expected to make some pretty huge decisions about your life and future, while you’re still learning about who you are as a person.
Another strength of Windfall is that the main characters are realistic and flawed, and these flaws are discussed. The characters actually communicate about their issues with one another. It doesn’t mean things are suddenly resolved, like in real life they have to work on things, but this book avoids the frustrating miscommunication trope. There is also a nice focus on family and relationships, which felt really important.
There are some elements which are a little predictable, especially with regards to the lottery win plot line, but at the same time, it’s a pretty unique concept. It does feel like it was written realistically, matters such as tax, legal advice and a waiting period for the winnings anchored the story somewhat in reality. It was also interesting to see how different characters attitudes changed after Teddy became rich, especially since before he was not well off at all.
Overall this was this was an entertaining read, which held my attention. The characters were all flawed, and developing, which made them both realistic and interesting to read about. I wasn’t hugely invested in the romance angle, but that’s okay, because the other relationships were really complex and well written.
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