Monday, April 17, 2017

Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith

Summary from Goodreads:
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.
I received this ARC for review from Penguin Teen (First in Line). The book comes out in May, and I’m so proud of myself for actually reading an ARC before it’s pub date. Go me. Also, I was pretty excited to see this one waiting on my doorstep. I love Jennifer E. Smith. True, her books are extraordinarily fluffy and sometimes Disney channel original movie-esque, but I love them. Sometimes I want a formulaic YA contemporary. And basically, she had the formulaic YA contemporary down.
This was the perfect book to take with me on vacation. I wanted something light and fun, and romantic to take with me on my light, fun, and romantic trip to London. It was the perfect book for me at the perfect time. That being said, I don’t think it will be everyone’s right book at the right moment like it was for me.
I can see a lot of people not liking the main character. Sometimes it’s hard to like a character that is so good. She’s not chosen one, Harry Potter good or super hero Spider-Man good. She’s the classic, do-good type personality. She seems to volunteer all of her free time at soup kitchens and other charitable organizations. And because of this she has an almost judgmental personality when it comes to normal people who don’t do that much good.
That being said, I think it’s good to have this character in YA. It’s important for readers to see that volunteering and helping people can be a normal part of life. I can even see Alice inspiring certain types of readers to do more for their communities. It was just a tiny bit hard at times to read about her not liking what her crush was doing with his newly won lottery millions.
I did ship her and her crush. There’s something about an unrequited, almost hopeless crush/first love that I super relate to. I get not being able to help who you fall for. And I loved that the two characters are so different, yet still somehow work enough for me to ship them. I also loved how believable Teddy was. He had a lot of learning and growing to do throughout this novel.
Watching him go from the kid everyone wants to succeed to the kid who “doesn’t deserve it” was hard. His peers handled him winning in a way that was to be expected, but was still harsh. I also loved Leo (the third best friend/cousin). I loved his long distant relationship with his boyfriend and how much importance was put on college decisions. I loved his family. I loved Alice learning to think of them as her family too. I found her grief relatable and redeeming.
All in all, this was a light book. It was just the right amount of fun (with a rags to riches element). I loved the characters, though Alice at times was a little much. I loved the location (Chicago). And basically it was the right book at the right moment for me. I give it a 9/10.

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