WINDFALL, BY JENNIFER E. SMITH
PUBLICATION: DELACORTE PRESS MAY 2, 2017
About the book: 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.
So I decided to review a YA novel by an author that I’ve never read, and I must say I enjoyed it quite a bit. Alice, Teddy, and Leo have been best friends for nine years since Alice’s parents died and she went to live with her aunt, uncle, and cousin Leo. On the night of Teddy’s 18th birthday party, Alice decides – on a whim – to buy Teddy a Powerball ticket. The next day they realize that Teddy, along with two other people, has one over $140 million. Everything quickly changes for these high school seniors after Teddy becomes a multimillionaire.
My overall impression as previously stated is that I really enjoyed this novel. It’s very long at over 400 pages but I knocked it out in a few hours, eager to find out what would happen. There were multiple subplots regarding Teddy and his mostly-absent, gambling father, Alice and her grief over losing her parents at such a young age, and Leo and his struggles with choosing a college because of his boyfriend and his true dreams for education and a career.
As much as I found this a pleasant read, I wasn’t blown away by any of the characters or the storyline. Perhaps because I’m over 40 and this is a YA novel?? I found each character unique and interesting in their own ways but didn’t feel as if any one character was well-developed enough to make me really love them. Teddy’s behavior after winning the lottery was also not surprising, but I liked seeing the changes he made by the end of the novel. I guess my point is, I felt as if Alice could have been developed into an absolutely incredible character, but so much of her time was spent thing about or stressing about Teddy’s new-found wealth and attitude, that the spotlight wasn’t on her as much as it could have been. I feel as if I got to know her aunt and uncle better than her or Teddy. Again, could be my age, lol???
I think there are several lessons that YA readers can learn from this novel regarding friendship, losses, and gains, although this just wasn’t my favorite read of the year.
*Thanks to Blogging for Books for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review!
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Learn more about Jennifer E. Smith by visiting her web page!