Review: Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith

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Let luck find you.

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.

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Pages: 418

~*~*~*~*~

I received this book from my Uppercase Box. I was in the midst of finals and needed a good read to keep my spirits up. This was the perfect fit! There will always be a special place in my heart for Jennifer E. Smith. Although many have critiqued this novel as a cheap copy on other lottery-centered-plot YA novels, I think it held its own. Maybe you’ve been in a dark cave for the past couple of weeks, but Lauren Graham (EEK) is going to adapt this novel into a movie. Sweet mother of glazed donuts, I’m so there. If for nothing else, read this novel because it is coming to a cinema near you. But, like, really. There are other reasons to read this book, too.

MORAL RATING:

PG: Some cuddling (clothed) in bed, kissing, one or two cuss words

THE GOOD:

Smith’s characters typically feel very realistic and relatable. I’ve read a few of her other works, and I would say that she consistently writes beautiful character arcs. Alice is a troubled orphan, trying to navigate her high school career and her feelings for her best friend, Teddy. Teddy is a scatterbrained, lovable jock who seems to be everyone’s friend.

Jennifer E. Smith doesn’t seem to be trying to win a Nobel Prize with her work, but there is something tangible and homely about her writing. It’s like coming home. Her characters could be people I pass on the streets of my neighborhood and I would most certainly want to be friends with them.

I loved how winning the lottery wasn’t as much of a blessing as it seemed in the first place. After experiencing relative poverty for most of his life, Teddy suddenly has the money to buy all he has ever wanted. He goes crazy with possibility and spends his money frivolously.

I loved how Smith dealt with Alice’s backstory. While it was sometimes overbearing, I feel like she did a great job of portraying a young woman still hurting from the loss of her parents. She second-guesses herself much of the time, and tries to make her late parents proud. I really loved Alice. It may be wrong to say this, but I think that she was way out of Teddy’s league. Sorry Teddy, but you just weren’t cutting it in my opinion.

THE BAD:

If someone is looking for a challenging read, I wouldn’t pick this one up. While it did deal with some heavier topics, it was more Sarah Dessen than Scott Westerfeld. Does that make sense? I hope it does.

SOUNDTRACK:

Lauv is a favorite of mine and this song dropped about a month ago. There’s something beautiful about spending time with someone that challenges and pushes you and makes you… more. This song sums that up for Alice and Teddy.

MY VERDICT:

Overall, I’d give this book 3.5/5 stars. It was an engaging, sweet treat that dealt with young love, winning the lottery, and growing up in a realistic, mature manner. If you’re looking for something deep and thought-provoking, leave this one on the shelf.

In the meantime, however, I may actually go drop one or two dollars (!!!) on a scratch ticket after reading this novel. I’m feeling lucky.

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