Thursday, May 11, 2017

REVIEW: Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith - 3.5 stars

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 12:00 PM
Title: Windfall
Genre: Contemporary YA
Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Publisher: Delecorte Press
Publication: May 2nd 2017 
Cover Rating:  3/5

What would you do with a million dollars? What about 53 million dollars? I would spend 3 million on a huge piece of land. Build a dream house, build a few other houses for my parents and sister, maybe my in-laws if I'm feeling extra nice. I would then buy every young adult book that comes out and never have to unhaul any of them because I ran out of room. The other 50 million? No idea, but I'd find causes and things to donate to. Maybe go back to school. It all sounds so lovely. So what would you get? And remember, don't let the money go to your head. Money has the ability to tear the world apart and it's not even remotely worth it.

- Plot:
If I had to give a quick synopsis for this book it would probably be...

Girl loses both parents, tragically, thirteen months apart. Girl goes to love with aunt and uncle. Girl becomes best friends with her cousin and his friend. Girl ends up with extremely stereotypical crush on her best guy friend. Girl buys best guy friend a lottery ticket for his 18th birthday. Guy wins the lottery with said ticket. Guy kisses girl and everything gets strained. Girl then had to decide who she is and If everything she's ever done had something to do with what she wants or what her parents would have wanted. Is she trying to follow her own dreams or is she just continuing get parents dreams? Do SHE want to go to Stanford or does she want to go because because her mother never got to go?

Then there is the other side of the story, Teddy. He ended up with a large sum of money from the lottery that came from a ticket Alice bought for his birthday and throughout the story we have to see what he ends up doing with the winnings whether it's good or bad or or whatever. But because of him winning people start using him for trips and food and whatever else pops up. Then his father magically reappears. The same father who drained the family bank account and all their savings just to gamble. Teddy is so gullible and doesn't believe his father has come back because he won the lottery. So he has a lot of choices to make.

I am no stranger to bad luck. So I could connect with two of the main characters pretty well on that front. The story is supposed to give hope and good morals but it's really no deeper than that. It was just a run-of-the-mill contemporary. If you are looking for a deep contemporary Young Adult book, then this probably isn't the book for you. 

Characters:
I touched on connecting with two of the characters in the plot section. The two characters being Teddy and Alice. I connected with Alice more because even with her horrible luck, she still finds a way to be a good person and I like to think that is how I have been my entire life. Alice lost both of her parents 13 months apart so she is living with her aunt and uncle and her cousin, Leo. Through living with her relatives she meets her best friend Teddy. So, 9 years after losing her parents, Alice has a pretty close circle.

Let's talk about Teddy. I did not like him. Whether he had won the lottery or not, I still would not have liked him. I understand his dad is a shit stain on the underpants of society and that, RIGHT THERE, should have been reason enough for Teddy to A) not trust his father ever again and B) be a little more grateful for the life his mother was able to provide for him after said shit stain screwed the family over. But nooo. He just had to be an ass-taco. He did end up doing great things with his winnings but I still just didn't get good vibes from him. He was just a very lost kid who gave his dad too many chances.

I liked Leo enough. He was art college bound after high school and with as much as him going to art college was brought up, we never got to 'see' any of his work. So, Leo was pretty much just a side character with a quick background to be used as plot fodder, even though he was in every scene and aspect of Alice's life.

There was also another love interest. I actually liked him. He was sweet and kind and I think him and Alice would have been such a great pair if only Alice could have pulled her head out of Teddy's ads for one second.

Along the lines of diversity, there was a gay character. There was a female character. And that's about it. I don't believe anything was mentioned about ethnicity.

World building:
There was no real world building needed as the book was a contemporary and took place in Chicago. -

The ending of the book was rather beautiful and I can say I was kind of surprised. With the way money tears people apart I expected the book to end badly. But I was pleasantly surprised and okay with the outcome. The book wasn't fantastic or anything but it had a lot of good morals and feel-good parts so that bumped up my rating a tad.

Overall I gave the book 3.5/5 stars.


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