Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith | Review

Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: May 2, 2017
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: standalone
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.

Being a lover of contemporary YA (especially those on the lighter, romantic side) and ever since reading The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight (still my favorite title ever), Jennifer E. Smith has always been under my radar. I've read a number of books by her, and they're usually a hit or miss for me. 

I am happy to say that Windfall is definite HIT with me! It's also now my favorite book by Ms. Smith.
Alice lost both of her parents when she was nine years old. She was taken in by her uncle and aunt, and her cousin Leo (who was the same age as her) became her self-appointed protector and best friend. They formed a trio with Leo's best friend Teddy. With all the awful tragedy Alice had dealt with, she doesn't believe in good luck. However, for Teddy's eighteenth birthday day she decided to buy him a lottery ticket sort of like a gag gift. To everyone's surprise, Teddy ended up winning about $53 million dollars (after taxes), which is a lot of money, and would definitely bring change to not only Teddy's life, but also to Alice and Leo, whether they're prepared for it or not.

Windfall tells the story of what happened from when Alice bought the lottery ticket in January all the way to June. Out of all of Jennifer E. Smith's books that I've read, Windfall was the one that really knocked me over with the feels. Because the story was more than the romantic love, but also deep friendship and love of family and belonging. I really felt for Alice, especially because even though she was welcomed and loved by her aunt and uncle and Leo, she had also kept herself apart from them and never really felt like she belonged in their family. I love Alice's character (which is a huge plus since the story is told through her first-person perspective) and I loved reading about the journey she went through to find herself and finally feeling like she belonged.

My favorite thing about Windfall is the close bond Alice, Leo, and Teddy share borne through years of friendship and experiences. They're sort of their own little family unit, and one of the things I love reading about in YA is that kind of friendship between characters. Then, we have Alice who'd been quietly pining for Teddy in the last few years, and of course I ate that up because I'm a sucker for the friendship-to-love trope. I do wish we got a little bit more in the romance department in the end. It ended a little abruptly in my opinion. I would've liked things to have ended a little bit more solidly. As for Teddy, there were some instances he kind of annoyed me. The way he acted sometimes before and after winning--although I guess I can forgive him for how he acted after winning because he was only 18 years old, and I suspect most people his age would react the same way he did if they won the lottery. Though his intentions were good, he was kinda rash and didn't think of other people's [Alice] feelings. He did get better by the end, but again I really wish we had more of him and Alice in the end.

Admittedly, I was skeptical with the whole winning the lottery premise, but I liked the direction the author took it in. I also appreciated the fact that Leo is gay, but it wasn't a big, dramatic deal. It was just fact. And we also got a cute secondary plot about Leo and his boyfriend Max, which was a plus. Overall, I really, really enjoyed Windfall. I love how it took on the themes of identity and belonging, friendship, family, and love. Windfall is a must-read for all Jennifer E. Smith fans and lovers of romantic contemporary YA--it's certainly my #1 favorite Jennifer E. Smith read! 
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