Laura's Reviews > Windfall

Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith
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really liked it
bookshelves: arc, books-i-own, contemporary, young-adult

3.75 stars.

Thank you, Edelweiss, for providing this book from Delacorte for review.

Alice, Teddy, and Leo are attached to one another, united by hardships and varying perceptions of luck. When Alice, who has crushed on Teddy for ages, purchases a lottery ticket for Teddy's birthday, and Teddy wins, she immediately worries about all that would change in the dynamics of their group. Teddy's newfound wealth touches everyone in ways Alice didn't think was possible, and soon she and Leo are grappling to bring Teddy back to reality.

It's been some time since I enjoyed a Smith book, and it's clear she poured her heart and soul into this one. The writing is beautiful, and Alice's internal monologues are deeply felt. She lost both of her parents before she was ten, moved in with her cousin Leo, and has tried to live up to the image she believes her parents would be proud of: giving back to others, doing good in the community, making the world a better place. But is she doing this for the idea of them, for herself, or for others?

Toss in the struggles every teenager faces in high school -- college applications, choosing the right school, seeking approval from your peers, experiencing first love and heartbreak -- and Alice has a full plate. Teddy has always been the athlete, utilizing the use-them-and-drop-them method with girlfriends, not the best in school but not terrible, just an all-around gregarious sort of guy. Alice lets his behavior slide (before, during, and after the lottery win) because she knows a lot of it stems from his father leaving the family and wracking up debt.

But this doesn't excuse the romance. I was not pleased with it whatsoever, and I'm not sure if it's because I felt a personal connection to it and know that in hindsight this is terrible for Alice, or if I'm an adult reader and can see 20/20. I'll come out and say it: it was frustrating and agonizing to watch. The ending for these two upset me, as I felt Alice could really grow (and grow apart) and be given wings separate from Teddy.

The message of this novel was poignant and clear and something I could root for. What would you do if you won the lottery? What would you do if you won millions and millions of dollars overnight? Some people know exactly what they'd do with money, others freeze at the thought. There's no right or wrong way about it. It's a lot of responsibility, and can come as a burden, too. I especially enjoyed how Alice grappled with change -- good and bad, pertaining to the lottery or just to choosing a college -- struggling to make decisions best for her rather than what others thought. She had a lot of internal wrestling going on, and working that out with her was a pleasure. Smith executed this really well.

Though the romance thread wasn't for me, the writing, heart, concept, and execution of this novel blew me away. The importance of family and growing up -- and growing into one's identity -- was beautiful. What a unique and compelling read!
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Reading Progress

January 19, 2017 – Shelved
January 19, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
January 24, 2017 – Shelved as: arc
April 26, 2017 – Started Reading
April 26, 2017 –
20.0% "I've only read January...and February is about to happen...and though I don't want to say it prematurely, but...

I think this may be her best book yet. The others I've read (and attempted to read) pale in comparison -- to the beginning, at least. Knock on wood this continues!"
April 28, 2017 –
31.0% "This Sawyer guy is hilarious."
April 28, 2017 –
40.0% "Teddy, you were kinda already full of yourself. Of course the money is getting to your head..."
April 28, 2017 –
53.0% "Oh my gosh, I know exactly how you feel, Alice! Feeling so stupid about unrequited love, and knowing it's unrequited but loving anyway when something bigger and better and more honest is presented to you!

May 2, 2017 –
67.0% "Ugh Alice you need to get far FAR away from Teddy IMMEDIATELY. He's no good for you or your mentality. History schmistory, MOVE ON.

(Can't tell if I'm frustrated with her as a character or the fact she's just as hung up on him as I was with my unrequited crush friend. Probably the latter, let's be real.)"
May 3, 2017 – Shelved as: books-i-own
May 3, 2017 – Shelved as: contemporary
May 3, 2017 – Shelved as: young-adult
May 3, 2017 – Finished Reading

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