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Review: Windfall

Windfall - Jennifer E. Smith

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

As soon as I saw this title pop up on Netgalley I put a request in. Delighted when I was approved.

 

An interesting enough plot, but I can’t say I really liked the characters all that much. Alice lives with her cousin Leo after the deaths of her parents, and has lived with them for some time. She’s got a hopeless crush on Leo’s best friend Teddy.

 

Alice is really smart and her dream is to go to college at Stanford because she believes that’s what her parents would have wanted. But when on Teddy’s 18th birthday, Alice buys him a lottery ticket, the ticket is actually winner and Teddy wins a humungous jackpot. Which naturally changes everything. Teddy lives with his mom in a crappy apartment, a downturn after his dad lost all their money due to a gambling habit. Now their lives can massively improve.

 

I don’t get Alice’s crush on Teddy. He’s self-centred and a jerk.  I didn’t like him much at all. Alice herself was too much of a goody-two-shoes for my liking. She had a fairly good emotional journey throughout the course of the novel, dealing with her feelings for Teddy, the huge changes that came about since Teddy’s lottery win, the impact it has on their friendship. And of course a hot new guy comes into her life as well, there may or may not be feelings there. Then there’s Alice’s college issues.

 

Spoiler, but this bit really annoyed me.

 

Teddy offers Alice half of the winnings as she was the one who purchased the tickets. She turns him down. SHE TURNS HIM DOWN. I just can’t imagine an 18 year old without parents turning down that much money. It could make a huge difference to her life. She volunteers at a soup kitchen and has a do gooder nature about her.  Good for her. But she’s so saintly it became across as very annoying, at least to this reader. I just can’t believe she turned the money down. She didn’t even take a small sum or anything.

(show spoiler)

 

Teddy of course achieves instant fame and does what any teenage boy would naturally do – splurge on himself and his friends. With Alice and Leo to try and get him to remain grounded. None of these changes seem to sit well with Alice, who’s still trying to work up the nerve to tell Teddy how she feels but they are arguing more and more. So she distracts herself when a new guy turns up working at the soup kitchen she volunteers at. They hit it off, and suddenly Teddy’s jealous. Insert eye rolling.

 

While this is going on Alice is trying to help Leo decide where he wants to go to college. Leo’s boyfriend is going to one college and Leo has a dream of going somewhere else, and he’s debating on following his boyfriend or trying a long distance thing. Leo is struggling with the decision, but he was a good friend to Alice. He was there when she needed someone to listen to and cheer her up.

 

There was some really good parental involvement in this one, from Teddy’s mom and Alice’s uncle and aunt. Likeable adults with good heads on who actually listen to what their kids are telling them. Alice’s aunt and uncle have some good listening skills, her aunt wants to make sure she knows what she wants when applying for colleges, making the choice for herself and not doing something just simply because this was where her parents went or what Alice thinks they wanted for her. To be in a city she barely remembers anymore, even though she may have lived there briefly when she was a kid.

 

This part of Alice’s journey was quite moving, and had a good emotional impact to it. There were a few scenes when Alice’s dealing with these issues made my eyes mist over. Particularly when she tries to talk to her uncle who was her dad’s brother about what her parents were like after she makes a trip to where she used to live. Quite bitter sweet and a definite tear jerker.

 

The romance angle was completely unsurprising. Kind of predictable really.  Teddy did make some personality improvements by the end of the novel, again, not entirely surprising.

 

Not my favourite novel by this author, can’t see myself reading this one again. Jennifer E Smith is one of my favourite contemporary YA writers, and usually an autobuy author for me. Though unfortunately this book was a miss for me.

 

Thank you to Negalley and Pan MacMillan for approving my request to view the title.