"To find out what a story's really about,' the Librarian said,

'you don't ask the writer. You ask the reader."

- SNOW & ROSE by Emily Winfield Martin

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Review: WINDFALL by Jennifer E. Smith (YA)

by Jennifer E. Smith
Release date: May 2nd, 2017
Published by Delacorte Press (Random House)
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Format: Hardcover, eBook, UK Paperback
Format read: ARC acquired by another book blogger
My rating: 2 1/2 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 migh 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 go 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 imagined... and about the unexpected ways in which luck and love sometimes intersect. 


I had such excitement going into this story... as this is one of my favorite authors, the whole concept and summary of this book sounded exactly what she would write and it would be dreamy and amazing! Unfortunately, that's not how it went for me... 

Alice is a very intelligent teen who works hard at everything - after the loss of her parents and having to move in with her uncle and his family, she has done nothing but to continue to try to make her parents proud of her by doing the things that she thinks that they would have liked her to do - excelling in school, volunteering, tutoring... Her best friend Teddy lives with his single mom in a modest one-bedroom apartment and is seemingly happy and content with what he has. When Alice gifts Teddy a lottery ticket for his birthday, and he wins, you can just imagine the excitement that ensues! Everyone wants to know Teddy and be his friend, even his father, who abandoned him, shows up on his doorstep... it takes Teddy a little too long to realize what everyone really wants from him and the truth comes out. Meanwhile, Alice sits on the sidelines waiting for Teddy to get a clue... 
In the end, the one person, besides his mother, that Teddy wants to share his winnings with doesn't want it... confusion, miscommunication, and drama arise from there... 

Parts of the story and the characters were too predictable. Alice is a goody-goody who has had a very sad and traumatizing past and is crushing on her best friend; Teddy is your typical popular/cute boy who gets by on personality and sports who then turns into an attention seeking and self-centered brat (as if he didn't already have enough attention by being popular, etc.); and Leo, the gay artist best friend who understands everything, is supportive and always says the right thing.

Overall, the main characters felt flat to me. Alice was just too good to be true. Even though things are explained, it still didn't seem right; and with Teddy, I just can't put it into words. He just didn't sit well with me. I wanted more from both. The "romance" connection wasn't there... I know that they could have been so much more, especially with their histories - their emotions just didn't reach me... the topics that arose could have been so much deeper and meaningful and it wasn't. I always expect so much when it comes to this author (she's one of my favorites!). Perhaps my expectations were too high... 

Tthe overall moral of the story is thoughtfulness and kindness - and everyone magically delivers in the end. A perfect happy ending... again, predictable.

The one good thing out of this story is Leo. I would LOVE to have a WHOLE book on Leo, please! Leo is quite the teaser - he was mysterious, aloof and gave as much as was needed for Alice and Teddy's story, but kept his own story to himself. His relationship, how he truly felt about everything that was happening around him, his past... I really felt drawn to Leo and feel that his story would definitely be worth knowing about and reading! I hope that this is something that the author is thinking of writing considering that she has only ever published standalone books and not companions or series.

I would recommend this book to all who truly love contemporary's with quick happy endings! Those who need a smile and are looking to just get lost in a story for genuine fun!

*I acquired an ARC from another book blogger through #booksfortrade via twitter.

All thoughts are my own.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Jennifer E. Smith

Jennifer E. Smith is the author of eight books for young adults, including WINDFALL and THE STATISTICAL PROBABILITY OF LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT.

She earned her master's degree in writing in creative writing from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, and her writing has been translated into 33 languages.

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