Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith- Review

Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith


Alice doesn’t believe in luck, at least not the good kind. She believes in love. Alice has been in love with her best friend, Teddy, for the last three years. On his eighteenth birthday she buys him a lottery ticket, and to his astonishment he wins the jackpot. The two of them are suddenly thrown together with the world at their feet. And when Teddy finally decides how to spend his money, who better to go on that adventure with him than Alice? But money can’t buy you love, and Alice and Teddy are about to find out more about themselves and each other than they ever could have imagined.


I got this book in a bookish subscription box in the month of May. I am not a big fan of YA contemporary fiction but this book surprised me positively. Story is about Alice, who has been living with her cousin Leo and his family after her parents died. Her best friends are Leo and Teddy. Teddy’s father is a gambling addict who left his family to fend for themselves. Alice is secretly in love with Teddy for awhile but isn’t able to tell him. Teddy is obviously oblivious to her feelings.

Alice gifts Teddy a lottery ticket on his eighteenth birthday. To her astonishment they win the jackpot. As she doesn’t wants the share of prize money, she offers the whole amount to Teddy. That’s when problems begin cropping up in their lives. After living on a tight budget for so long, Teddy is enamored with this new phase of his life. Alice is worried that soon there will be nothing left of old Teddy whom she befriended as a child, and loved as a teenager.

In the beginning of the story it feels like Alice is the most altruistic character. She is an orphan girl who spends her time working in a soup kitchen, walking dogs and participating in junior reading programs. She is an unselfish girl who always tries to be helpful to others and has her heart in the right place. But slowly as the story moves forward you realize that she is as directionless as other teenage kids of her age. She is doing all of these things because wants to make her dead parents proud. Before taking any decision she only thinks about what her parents would have done in the same situation. Eventually in this whole process, she has forgotten what she wants from life.

Teddy is the most misjudged character in this book. Any other teenager in his situation would have reacted in the same way. He suddenly gets huge amount money after facing monetary troubles for so long. Along with that he is facing serious father-son issues also. All he wants in life is to get back to his normal happy childhood. As we see the story unfold from Alice’s perspective, we start judging Teddy because of her warped views, which, in turn, are a result of her own insecurities.

The only thing which bothered me a lot is there is a very little focus on Leo’s story line. The book is 415 pages long, surely a little bit of focus on Leo and Max wouldn’t have hurt. All we know is they are a couple in a long distance relationship and have their own problems. But we rarely get a peek into their lives. Throughout the book, Leo just plays a stand-up gay friend, who supports Alice’s story further.

Though the main plot of Windfall is winning the jackpot, the story is much more about teenagers figuring out their own path in this world. From the first page when Alice brought the ticket you know that they are going to win (no surprises there). But what grabbed my attention was how Jennifer E. Smith beautifully showed the after effect of winning such a huge amount. Complexities of teenage relationships, friendships and familial ties is portrayed aptly. The main characters are believable as teenagers and are easy to relate with. In most YA books the parents are always MIA, I loved that the parents and guardians are a significant part of this story. The ending was a bit disappointing for me. It felt as if the author wanted to tie up the loose ends. I would have liked it much better if Alice, Teddy and Leo would have gone their own way to find their destinies.

My Rating: 3/5

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