book review, contemporary, romance, young adult

Book Review: Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith

9780399559396_p0_v2_s192x300When I first read Windfall, I immediately thought it was a cute story with so many elements that I like. And because I hadn’t (and still haven’t) read another YA lottery win tale–Lucky in Love by Kasie West–my opinion at first was definitely favorable. And it still mostly is. But after some discussion with other reviewers, I have to agree that one of the characters is quite frustrating. More on that shortly.

Windfall is a YA contemporary about a girl who has been in an unrequited love situation with her best friend Teddy for a long, long time. And just about the time something could maybe happen (because apparently she hasn’t seen or read He’s Just Not That Into You and hasn’t moved on), she buys Teddy a lottery ticket for his birthday. And he wins millions of dollars. I think a lot of people like to dream about winning the lottery, but just as many have read about what it has done to families and external relationships. People’s judgement tends to be not so clear in the best of stories, and in the worst of them, there is often tragedy. But seeing that this is a YA, I figured the most that would be on the line is their friendship and potential romantic entanglement.

Both the MCs, Alice and Teddy, are given really sob story backgrounds. Which while it worked well for their character, it was also a bit unnecessary. In a fictional setting, it didn’t work well for me to think that because they are both poor, one is an orphan, and one had their father walk out on them… I don’t know. It just seems like a bit much. Sort of like a crutch to explain why you should be that much happier that things are going well in their life finally when they win the lottery. But it is a rags to riches story… I just don’t see that as super relatable.

Regardless, the windfall of having money in their lives (Teddy’s money), is a lot for them to handle. Being that Teddy is a teenager, you expect him to be a little reckless with it. He has zero experience at handling that much cash, or a decent paycheck even, so his idea of what to buy is going to be reflective of his idea of how rich people spend their money. So Alice keeps getting her hopes up on being with Teddy, and Teddy makes a lot of mistakes, looking her over time and again, until he finally comes around.

I found Alice quite relatable and likable. From being a volunteer (I did tons of community service as a kid, and no it was not court mandated… just a do-gooder) to being in love with something who is not in love with you… I get it. It’s a tough place to be in. I think I wanted her to be more assertive with Teddy, but she wanted him to figure it out on his own. That fear of losing him when she never had him to begin with was, however, the primary driving force. So the book played out how it should have. It was good, but for me it wasn’t my favorite YA.

If you do like a bit of melodrama in your YA romance, I think it could be a fun read for you. It does have a bit of a I’ve-read-this-before vibe, but overall not a bad read for summer.

2 thoughts on “Book Review: Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith”

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