My name is Ardis and I am an avid reader and budding writer. I want to share my love of books with others. I work with kids and am interested in finding and creating books that will ignite the reader in everyone. Contact me at: ardis.atkins@gmail.com

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

ARC Review: Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith

Please Note:  I received an advanced reader's copy of this book from the publisher's "First In Line" program.  This did not influence the opinions of my review in any way.

Synopsis (From Goodreads):
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 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 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 have imagined . . . and about the unexpected ways in which luck and love sometimes intersect.

With books such as This Is What Happy Looks Like, and The Statistical Probability Of Love at First Sight, Jennifer E. Smith is the queen of YA romcom.  Her reign continues with Windfall, a story of how we meet the challenge of life constantly changing.  I found most of her book to be charming and fun.

What I Liked:
What would happen to you or your best friend if they won the lottery?  Would they go crazy and party, or find ways to spread the wealth?

This is such a fun part of the book because I think winning the lottery is something most people daydream about.

But, of course, there are downsides to suddenly having tons of money, and the book show that, as well.

Al (short for Alice) has lived in Chicago with her cousin, Leo, ever since her parents died in California when she was small.  Even though she claims she doesn't believe in luck, she feels a bit cursed.  She longs to get accepted into Stanford so she can go back to California, where she thinks she will finally feel complete.

I liked Al's character. She struggles with her competing emotions about college and possibly moving far away from Leo, and her crush, Teddy.  This is a book about figuring out what is most important to you:  friendships and family, or chasing a memory.  I liked that she didn't have it all figured out.  I mean, what eighteen-year old does?

Teddy is the luck winner of the lottery.  At first, he seems like the dim-witted jock everyone thinks he is.  He makes mistakes with his money right and left.  But, as they say, with great power comes great responsibility.  Teddy must become a mature adult, quickly.

Leo is Al's cousin, and Teddy's best friend.  At first, I was annoyed because he seemed like a token gay character.  There wasn't much to him other than being the gay friend.  But that changes as Leo's character develops.  He also must decide if he should go to his boyfriend's college or the school he really wants to attend.  Many teen couples wrestle with this dilemma.  I loved that the author gave Leo a real set of problems to figure out, and didn't just leave him on the sidelines.

What I was mixed about:
Okay, I will say, upfront, that I have a California bias here.  But one of the big issues in the book is whether Al should go to Stanford or Northwestern University.  I was taken aback that Al would have any doubts about going to Stanford, even with her worries about leaving her family and friends behind (that's what Skpye's for).

In many instances the two schools are quite similar.  They both have a medium-sized population of around 8500 students, and cost about the same (around $50,000).  However, according to U.S. News & World Report, Stanford is the #5 school in the country, while Northwestern is ranked #12.  The acceptance rate for Stanford is just 5% (12% for Northwestern).  It is a school that is practically miraculous to get in to!  If one gets accepted to Stanford, they ARE going to Stanford. 

If I have offended any Midwesterners who are are Northwestern Alumni, please forgive my passion.
I think one's decision would really depend on which school had the better program for their major,  but I don't think that was ever mentioned in the book (or if it was, it was in passing).

Tired Trope:
I also am a little tired of the girl being in love with her best guy friend, device: 

Oh, if only she had the guts to tell him, he would realize he loved her all along. 

While it was an essential part of the story, I wish there had been a twist to it. 

For all my whining, these complaints were actually only mildly annoying.  This was overwhelmingly a joyously fun book.  Who wouldn't mind daydreaming about winning millions while still in high school!  





Release Date:  May 2nd, 2017

Genre:  YA Contemporary

Source:  Random House "First In Line" program

Format:  Paperback book

Recommendation:  A fun, daydream of a YA book.  

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