Title: Windfall

Author: Jennifer E. Smith

Genre: YA Fiction

# Pages: 416


My rating: 3.75 stars


From the Publisher:

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.

My Thoughts:

I severely underestimated this one.  When I initially read the summary, I was skeptical that Jennifer Smith’s writing could really be similar enough to Jenny Han’s and that she would be able to pull off a plot about an 18 year old winning the lottery (I mean, when the associated words are love and luck, how can it be anything but cliche?).  This reading experience was a rollercoaster of appreciation for the story and eye-rolling at the obvious. Let’s talk about a few of the key topics:

The romantic relationship:  This was the drawback for me. Although the trio friendship between Teddy, Leo, and Alice is strong and surpasses the superficial, the romantic tension between Teddy and Alice was frustrating.  I wish Jennifer Smith had left that element out–not all boy/girl friendships have to have romantic tension.  Sawyer would have been enough of a romantic interest for Alice if it truly felt necessary to include that in the story.  However, the relationship is clean, which is a rare find in YA lit today.

The lottery ripple effects:  There were many surprises here.  I don’t want to spoil the plot, but while most characters had typical responses to Teddy winning the lottery, Alice’s response completely caught me off guard.  The author did such a great job building believable characters that I found myself emotionally invested, rooting for Teddy to come to his senses and spend the money “responsibly,” while understanding reasons why he might go wild with spending.

The thought of winning the lottery, even a mere million dollars, seems so outrageous to even consider.  I can’t imagine winning 141 million or acting responsibly after coming from a life where every purchase is a struggle.  I liked the story, even with its disappointing moments (far and few between), and can’t wait to recommend this book to teens coming in to the library!