Hey, bookworms! It’s been a while… Sorry for the absence.
I’ve had a very busy few weeks and I’m still trying to fit blogging into my new work schedule. To make matters worse I had the flu last weekend and pretty much slept the days away. Not the most productive lifestyle.
Last week I finished reading Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith. Today I will be sharing my thoughts on this new young adult contemporary to help you decide whether or not to add it to your ever-growing TBR list.
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.
My Rating: 3.5/5
“Here’s the thing you have to remember… If you give a tiger a cupcake, you can’t be annoyed with him for eating it.” Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith, Chapter 18
Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith is a contemporary young adult novel about friendship, luck and love. The story follows Alice, a high school senior, as she deals with the fallout of buying her best friend Teddy a winning lottery ticket for his birthday. Their situation is complicated by an excited kiss they share the morning after Teddy’s birthday when they realize that he’s won the lottery, not to mention the fact that Alice has secretly been in love with Teddy for years.
One of the first things that caught my eye about this book is the gorgeous blue and green cover. The small gold bear and alligator figurines represent Teddy and Alice, referencing their matching childhood nicknames for each other, Al E. Gator and Ted E. Bear. The other aspect of this novel that drew me in immediately was the concept. After reading the synopsis, I just needed to know what happened to Alice and Teddy.
There were things I loved about this novel, and things I didn’t like so much. Overall I found it to be a pretty enjoyable read – fun and light, but not overly fulfilling. Although it is long, Windfall is quick and approachable. The novel is broken into five sections made up of fifty short chapters. The five sections divide the story line into five months, beginning in January when Teddy wins the lottery.
One of my favorite things about Windfall is the writing style. The novel is well written, and there are several passages I found myself writing down so that I wouldn’t forget them. Jennifer E. Smith’s style is simple and approachable, making this a YA novel that is accessible to younger teens and tweens who start reading young adult literature a bit early like I did. Unlike some of the novels I stumbled across, Windfall won’t accidentally ruin a ten-year-old’s innocence either.
Windfall‘s ending, or at least the romantic pairing reached by the end, is anticipated by even the most casual reader. Teddy’s actions as a lottery winner are also quite predictable. He makes a number of crazy, exorbitant purchases and wastes money on things he doesn’t need. He’s also helpful to those in his community in the way that lottery winners often are. He replaces a teacher’s television on the spot when it gives out during class, and he doesn’t just get his mom an apartment in Chicago, he buys her the whole damn building. Personally this predictability didn’t lessen my enjoyment of the novel very much at all; I probably would have been upset if things had turned out any differently.
In spite of this predictability, Windfall has a cute and engaging plot that kept me reading. Beyond the romance and typical high school college application drama, Windfall provides a surprisingly deep exploration of friendship and familial relationships. The complex family lives of Alice and Teddy influence their characters and make their bond extra special. After losing both her parents within just over a year of each other, Alice views herself as an island – a loner with no real immediate family or permanent ties. Over the course of the story she experiences a shift in perspective and realizes that families can vary and that she is nowhere near alone. This subplot was absolutely one of the highlights of this novel.
The characters created by author Jennifer E. Smith are likable but not terribly complex. Teddy is the classic “perfect” high school athlete; Alice is an over-the-top do-gooder who volunteers at every turn. The third member of Teddy and Alice’s best friend trio is Alice’s cousin Leo who she moved in with after her parents died. He fulfills the role of the stereotypical artsy gay character, and although I am glad that Windfall features LGBTQ representation, it almost seems as though Leo exists solely to perform this role and that’s sad. I would have liked to see more of Leo, particularly some more interaction with Teddy, and perhaps to have met his boyfriend Max rather than to have just heard about him through the friends’ conversations. That being said, Teddy, Alice and Leo were fun to read about and get to know.
Windfall also features a cast of fairly well-developed supporting characters that lend interest and drama to the plot. My favorite character is Sawyer, a high school junior Alice meets while volunteering at her local soup kitchen. Sawyer is Teddy’s competition for Alice’s affection, and it’s clear from the start that Sawyer and Alice are not only compatible but quite similar. Aunt Sofia and Uncle Jake, Leo’s parents, also add a lot to the story.
Despite the predictability of certain plot points, I’m glad to have had the opportunity to read Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith. Despite any of the other issues I may have found with this novel, it’s certainly above average and worth the read. I would recommend Windfall to lovers of young adult contemporary romances, particularly to those who want a romance without all of the gratuitous sex. Windfall is perfect for young teen readers and fans of the “friends as lovers” trope, as well as those who like their romance with a little reflection.
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own and are non way influenced by the author, publisher, or other third party.
Genre – Young Adult Contemporary; YA Romance
Publisher – Delacorte Press Pub. Date – May 2, 2017
Buy it Here:
Thanks for stopping by and reading my review of Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith! I hope you enjoyed this review and you stop by again soon. I promise to get less delinquent about my blogging, I swear.
Has anyone read Windfall yet or checked out any of Smith’s other books? I’d love to know your thoughts.
What are your thoughts on LGBTQ representation in literature? What books do you think do a good job of representation? Which leave a lot to be desired? Let’s talk books, people!