YA Review: Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith

windfall.jpgThe Premise: everyone dreams of winning the lottery, but what do you do when that actually happens? That’s the question that Teddy must answer when his best friend, Alice, buys him a lottery ticket for his 18th birthday and it results in a multi-million dollar windfall. Oh, and Alice is secretly in love with Teddy. Obviously.

Thoughts: I must begin by saying I really, really liked this book. I read it in one sitting  at a point when I’d already read 7 books in 2 days (I was home alone and barely left the house), so I was surprised that it grabbed me as strongly as it did.

I think the idea of winning the lottery is something that everyone has contemplated at some point, which makes a lot of Windfall universally appealing. Teddy lives in a tiny, one-bedroom apartment with his mum, after his dad lost all their money and left a few years before, so his sudden enormous fortune makes a huge difference; immediately, he’s buying sports cars and paying for his jock buddies to spend Spring Break in Mexico. It’s relatable; surely these are the kinds of things everyone would do? Because he’s a decent guy, he also tries to make Alice take half the money; she bought the ticket after all, so it seems only fair. She says no, creating another ‘what would I do?’ scenario for the reader; I like coming across these kinds of things, especially in YA where I usually feel too old and boring to fully relate to what’s going on.

Windfall is far less fluffy than its synopsis might imply; both Alice and Teddy have suffered terrible losses, which create some really emotional moments. Their friendship, completed with Alice’s cousin Leo, is one of the highlights of the book; although Alice’s feelings for Teddy complicate things, their banter sounds authentic and their bond is obvious. Nearly all the parents on show, unusually for YA, are excellent; funny and supportive and like real, actual people. I liked this.

In Conclusion: Windfall is, basically, really lovely. Jennifer E. Smith takes a fantastical but possible scenario and weaves it into a story about love, family and loyalty, about finding your own way and learning what’s really important. It reminded me of Meg Leder’s The Museum of Heartbreak, one of my favourite YA reads of 2016. I recommend Windfall; it’s sweet and thought-provoking, sometimes at the same time, which is pretty impressive.

Thanks very much to My Kinda Book for the proof copy of Windfall. This in no way influenced my opinion. It’s just a really good book.


One thought on “YA Review: Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith

  1. Briana says:

    Interesting. I haven’t read many of Smith’s books (one?), but I kind of love that she writes about wild dream scenarios. Although I’ve heard that winning tons of lottery money in real life often ends badly, with family members begging for cash, random people showing up to rob you, etc. Apparently if you win millions your best bet is basically to change your name, move, and never talk to anyone you know again, which is just sad.


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