Monday, May 1, 2017

Mother-Daughter Review: Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith

Title: Windfall 
Author: Jennifer E. Smith 
Publisher: Delacorte Press 
Source: Publisher 
Expected Publication: May 2nd, 2017 
Pre-order: Amazon | B&N 

Summary: 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.


Michele's thoughts: 

Three confessions pre-Windfall:

1) I am not the target audience for this book, which comes as a surprise to no one who knows that I am the mother half of this mother-daughter blogging duo.

2) Even though I enjoy a lot of YA fantasy/dystopia, I struggle with YA contemporary; but I will never turn down a buddy-read with my kiddo, contemporary or not.

3) The only thing I’ve read by Jennifer E. Smith is the short story "A Thousand Ways This Could All Go Wrong" in the Summer Days and Summer Nights anthology – but it did happen to be one of my two favorites in that book.

Three confessions post-Windfall:

1) Target audience means nothing. Any book that can make me feel like this book does means it’s a book for me.

2) When a contemporary revolves around a unique concept like winning the lottery and contains YA characters like Alice, Leo, and Teddy, and adult characters like Jake, Sofia, and Katherine – then it’s a book to love regardless of its genre.

3) Up until now, the only thing I’d read by Jennifer E. Smith was a short story in an anthology; but now I’m going to read ALL the Jennifer E. Smith books I can find.

The lottery. That magical random drawing of numbered tickets that makes some lucky person’s dreams come true. I love a certain HGTV show about lottery winners finding their dream home. Mckenzie and I love making plans with what we’d do if we had our own windfall, starting with taking care of friends and family, then giving to charities, then splurging on lots of fun things for us. My dear friend Teresa and I talk about winning the lottery and the library that we’d share and how we’d read and talk books all day long and never worry about having to go to work again. It’s fun! Who hasn’t thought about winning the lottery at some point in life? Having your entire life change in an instant? Alice. Alice hasn’t. Because Alice has already had her whole life changed… her world turned completely upside down, in fact. Alice became an orphan at the age of nine. After her mother died from breast cancer, her father was killed in a car accident one year later. So at nine years old, Alice went to live with her Uncle Jake, Aunt Sofia, and cousin Leo. She and Leo, along with their best friend Teddy, have been inseparable ever since. For Teddy’s birthday, Alice buys him a lottery ticket and tells him how she truly feels about him in a card. The card gets lost. But the ticket? The ticket is a winner, and it makes Teddy a millionaire overnight. And Alice’s whole world shifts again.

Alice is a character I would crawl through the pages for just to be able to pull her into a big hug. Then I’d search out Leo, because that is one adorable guy. Everybody in the world needs a friend like Leo. And Teddy. Teddy gets a hug, too. Sometimes he gets a gentle elbow in the side… but mostly he gets hugs. These three friends are some of the most endearing YA characters I’ve had the pleasure to read about.

I adore the author’s writing and the way she tells this story so stunningly.  This book touched my heart, it made me laugh, and it made me tear up… more than once. It’s full of heart and a really great message, too. There’s so much I could tell you about that happens in the pages of this book, but I just want you to read it. I want you to meet these characters and fall in love with them just like I did. There’s more than one kind of lottery out there; and I love that this book is a reminder that, because of the people we love who love us back… we’ve already won.

Mckenzie's thoughts: 

Windfall is a book like none other I've read; it's such a unique concept. This isn't just a regular contemporary high school novel. There is so much more here than just a boy and a girl in high school. And Alice and Teddy are not typical contemporary characters. Yes, they're in high school; and yes, Alice is in love with her best friend; but those are the only similarities. Those are the constants. Because once Alice buys Teddy a winning lottery ticket for his birthday, everything else changes.

These characters. I'm honestly not sure where to begin on just how much I loved these characters. Alice is the best friend we've all always wanted; she's the most lovable, unannoying, genuine lead character I've found in a contemporary. She has such a beautiful heart and carries so much grief inside it; this is one of those cases where I feel the urge to climb inside the pages and tell the character everything is okay and that she deserves the world. Teddy was an incredibly enjoyable character and love interest. He brought humor where it was much needed and always managed to make Alice (and me) smile; but he carried grief of his own, and my heart broke for him, as well. Leo, however, may be my favorite. I firmly believe everyone needs to have a Leo at some point in their lives. He is the voice of reason and he's always looking out for Alice and Teddy, but he is also kind and caring and the sort of friend one is very lucky to find. And I'm so grateful he and Alice and Teddy had each other.

One of my favorite aspects of this book was the lack of character description. The only physical detail we get about Alice is her blonde hair when she first arrives to live with her aunt and uncle as a little girl, and we find that Leo and Teddy have brown eyes and brown hair. But that is all we get for appearances. Because that is not what this story is about. In all honesty, it's not what life is about. I really appreciate a book that forces the reader to think like that, to focus more on actions and personalities of the characters than on the mental image the descriptors in a book conjure up. Reading a book like this, putting yourself in that kind of mindset, shows what really matters, that appearances have no bearing on what happens in a person's life or what kind of person they are. I think that's a message the world really needs these days, and I'm grateful to Jennifer E. Smith for subtly reminding us all of it.

Windfall was a beautifully emotional story filled to the brim with heart and hope, and I am so glad to have picked this one up. Not only is the writing captivating and brilliant, but these characters are so very important and are ones every reader needs to know. I implore you to give this book a chance, even if you think it's not your genre, or that it won't appeal to you in some other way. Take my word for it. Take our word for it. This book is special.

Thank you to the publisher for providing us with a copy of this book in exchange for our honest reviews. 

© at A Belle's Tales

  

16 comments:

  1. Mckenzie and Michele you both are amazing. I love reading your POVs. I especially love McKenzie's take on the description of the characters and glad that she feels the same way I do. I rather the author did not focus on skin color or body type, but focus on personality and life experiences as well. Great reviews, both of you. I cannot wait to read this book myself.

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    1. Awww, Lily! Thank you so much -- this just made our day! We are truly hoping that this will become the new trend -- to focus not on the physical attributes of a character but on who they are on the inside. We can hardly wait for you to read this and share your thoughts with us. Thank you, YOU amazing person, you! :)

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  2. Ahh.. I love how this book made you think again about all your preconceived notions. I struggle with YA contemp but I tend to pick up the ones that recommended. I will add this to my list. Thanks for the lovely review, ladies.

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    1. It truly did, Heidi. We love this book and its characters so much, and we really believe that you would love it, too. It's not a premise we've read before, and it's one that touched our hearts but at the same time was so much fun to read.

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  3. This is my new favorite review and do you know why?!?! Because you have these words "My dear friend Teresa"-- THATS MEEEEEEEE haha. Our lottery library will be so pretty.
    But in all seriousness, your pre reading thoughts were similar to mine (this surprises exactly no one) because you know how I am with YA contemporary but a book that you both loved so much is clearly a book I need on my radar. I love the concept and I love the sound of the characters. Wonderful reviews guys! *squeeze*

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    1. Hahaha! LOVE IT! I seriously thought about you and our library so many times while reading this. I also believe wholeheartedly that you will adore this book as much as we do. It's one of those that we would have so much fun flailing over. Thank you, lobster *squish*

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  4. Wonderful review ladies. This sounds so unique and quite different from what is out there in YA contemporary.

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    1. Thank you, Kim! It really is. It's not a concept I've ever come across. The characters are so endearing; I believe you would fall in love with them, too.

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  5. What a neat book this sounds like! And fantastic review. I definitely want to read about these characters now and it sounds like it really celebrates friendship and family and what's really important in life. Adding this to my TBR!

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    1. Thank you so much, Greg! We definitely want you to read this one, and we hope you'll love it as much as we do. You are exactly right, and that's what makes this book so special :)

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  6. I love your reviews! This book sounds good and I am definitely interested after your reviews! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Thank you, Cindy! I hope you get a chance to read it soon; I think you'd absolutely love it :)

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  7. I haven't heard of this one. It does sound like an interesting concept. I loved hearing both of your thoughts on the book. I am intrigued by the fact that both of you raved about it and enjoyed it so much. I don't often read YA contemporary books- but I am adding this one to my list. :) Thanks for sharing!
    ~Jess

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    1. Yay, we're so glad you're adding it to your list! We can't wait for you to meet these characters. This is such a sweet and amazing story. Thank you, Jess :)

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  8. Oh, I LOVE it when you both do reviews together, because you're both BRILLIANT!! You're the book blogging world's "Dynamic Duo"!! ABSOLUTELY!!

    Each of you brought in different angles of this story to your combined review, and yet, you had things in common, too! Still, these angles gave an overall view of this book that's HIGHLY compelling!

    You know, I was at B&N last night (it's now 1:00 AM here in Miami) and saw one whole store display dedicated to JUST this novel! And now that I've read this review, I KNOW I need to read this! No, this is not my usual type of genre. As you guys know, I much prefer PNR and UF, as well as YA, of course!! But heck, if these characters are as WONDERFUL as you both say they are (I especially LOVE the fact that Michele wants to HUG them!), then I just HAVE to get a hold of this book, and read it!!

    Thanks for sharing your beautifully-written thoughts!! You guys ROCK. SUPER SMOOSHY TACKLE HUGS TO YOU BOTH!!!! <3 <3 <3 :) :) :)

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    1. Haha we sure do like that title! You are too sweet, and your kind words make our day. We would LOVE to see that display. We had to order a signed finished copy of this for our shelves because we loved this book so much. I know it's not your usual read, but we're so glad that you're going to take a chance on it because we really think that you'll love it! Hope you get to it soon, and we can't wait for your thoughts when you do! Thank you so much, Maria *SUPER SMOOSHY TACKLE HUGS BACK TO YOU* Have a great day!! <3 <3 <3

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