Monday, May 8, 2017

Book Review: Windfall by (long spoilers)

A solid 3.5 stars.

This book was a real disappointment for me. I am unsure how to explain why other than just to tell you that it felt very flat. It wasn't a gripping story, and I honestly couldn't get much out of it. I just expected more out of this story line. This was a very promising book. It had such potential to set a course really; there isn't much out there regarding lotto winning books. Honestly, I was surprised at how much I wanted to like this book, I did. I mean the concept is spot on. The execution just fell a little flat for me.  Get ready for a long review.  This is your basic young adult romance contemporary novel. I enjoy this genre of young adult novels, so I went in expecting to be wowed. Perhaps my expectations were too high.  

I have had some trouble with young adults novels, as I seem to get older. Sometimes I find myself failing to connect with the main character, or other times there is too much teen angst. In this book though, I was pleasantly surprised about how wonderful it was.  Also let me just be frank and say that for me, Windfall is probably one of the more refreshing contemporaries out there.Which probably seems to contract everything I just said about the novel. 

Our main character Alice doesn't believe luck exists anymore, and honestly for a good reason. She has had to deal with the worst pain imaginable. The tragic and terrible death of her parents. She decides that she will get her best friend Teddy a lottery ticket. Mainly as a joke, but more so because she secretly is in love with him. Surprisingly this kid wins the lottery. Not just any lottery but a $140 million dollar lottery! Can you even imagine? Of course with new found money, comes new found problems. Their friendship will be tested in numerous ways. 


a piece of unexpected good fortune, typically one that involves receiving a significant amount of money.

What I found fascinating about this book is that despite so much romance mentioned in the synopsis and blurbs, this book contains very few romantic scenes. The themes of family, friendship, belonging, the struggle of money, and identity or much more regularly explored in this book. 

Another thing I found interesting was this isn't your typical two person friendship book either. This friendship is three bonds. Between Leo, Teddy, and Alice. I found this to be awesome because I believe that most people have more than on friend at a time, maybe even more than one best friend. I found the relationship and connection of them to be gripping. I have never developed such close friends, so I enjoyed this aspect. 

We have all sorts of words that could describe us. But we get to choose which ones are most important.”

One major positive about this book is how well the author, Jennifer E. Smith, writes. She effortlessly and realistically captures what so many teens go thru, that challenging high school experience that is full of drama. The period of self-discovery and change. Also, she does this without talking much about the high school experience. She leaves the gossip, bullying, cheerleaders, and other crap out of this novel. It is oddly refreshing. She was able to make it modern and contemporary without being overly cliche

“Here’s the thing you have to remember,” Leo says. “If you give a tiger a cupcake, you can’t be annoyed with him for eating it.”
In spite of myself, I laugh. “Why would you give a tiger a cupcake?”
“Why not?” he asks with a shrug.
But the problem is this: I’m not annoyed with Teddy for eating the cupcake.
I’m annoyed with myself for giving it to him in the first place.

The family dynamics are beautiful and such loving examples. Every single young adult book I have read has an insane amount of horrible guardian figures. People that make you want to run away screaming. Or the parents are only around for one part of the book, and the teenager seems like an orphan throughout the rest of the novel. This is one of my biggest pet peeves in young adult literature. So I am very glad that windfall included such a great family dynamic. I also love the effort that went into such beautiful dialog. 

To end this super long review, I just want to point out a few more things. There was so much that I enjoyed about this little novel, I enjoyed the pace of the book. For once I felt like the timeline was very plausible. The characters were diverse, interesting, and completely developed. They also weren't static, the grew, changed. Sometimes for the best and other times for the worst. 

Overall this book isn't the worst and was pretty great. It is pretty far from a perfect young adult novel, but it is exciting and refreshing I will be picking up more of her books in the future. As always my views are my own and reflex my opinions, always try out a book for yourself! 

Disclaimer: I received this book in exchange for my honest and completely unbiased review. All thoughts are my own.

Links for purchase: Amazon // Barnes and Noble // Abe Books // Indigo 

Goodreads Description:

Alice doesn’t believe in luck—at least, not the right 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 learned 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.

Author Information:

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 creative writing from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, and her writing has been translated into 33 languages.

Goodreads  // Website 

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