Today we’re taking part in the pre-publication blog tour for Jennifer E. Smith’s WINDFALL.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like if you or a close friend won the lottery? Jennifer E. Smith’s newest book Windfall explores just that.
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.
For his 18th birthday, Alice buys her friend (and longtime secret crush) Teddy a lottery ticket as a joke. But when the winning numbers are announced the next morning, they’re in for a surprise: Teddy has hit the jackpot. Windfall follows Alice, Teddy, and their friend Leo as they navigate a new reality of money, money, and more money.
While Windfall spends a good bit of time on the romantic feelings that Alice has for Teddy and whether they are reciprocated, it focuses even more on the importance of friendship. The trio of Alice, Leo, and Teddy have been together for years. They were there for Alice when her parents died and she had to move cross-country to live with Leo (her cousin) and her aunt and uncle. They got through Teddy’s dad’s abandoning his family. And now, they have to adjust to the reality that Teddy is a multimillionaire together.
I think most people have heard that winning the lottery can complicate people’s lives in ways they don’t expect, and we definitely see that in Windfall. Teddy has spent his whole life wondering if he can afford to pay for the extra guacamole on his burrito and overnight, that’s no longer a problem. He has to learn to adjust to the realities of his new situation. Teddy makes some impulsive decisions – and ones that Alice does not approve of – but, without spoiling things, he grows a great amount throughout the book and it’s nice to see him left in a much better place.
With that being said, Teddy was probably my least favorite character in the book. For whatever reason, there was something about him that just kind of grated at me, especially right after he won the money. I actually didn’t ship Alice and Teddy throughout the entire book, which really surprised me. But, given his growth by the end of the book, I think Alice is a good influence on Teddy.
Alice also grows a great deal during the book. She starts out very focused on doing things that she thinks would make her parents proud – planning to go to college at Stanford, doing tons of community service, etc. I really enjoyed watching Alice learn about what she wants to get out of life throughout the book. Plus, her character is really relatable for high school seniors still trying to find their place in the world.
Also worth noting is the strong family relationships in the book. Alice lives with her aunt and uncle, who took her in after both of her parents died, and I think Windfall does a fantastic job of exploring what that kind of relationship is like and showing the strength and love that her family has for her. Likewise, Teddy’s father has a gambling problem and left his family when Teddy was young. He shows up after Teddy wins the lottery and his presence leads to some uncomfortable moments for Teddy, Alice, and Leo. But ultimately, this brings the trio closer and emphasizes that family doesn’t always have to be directly related by blood.
Overall, Windfall is a fantastic follow up to Smith’s other contemporary novels. It looks at what happens when one of your best friends wins the jackpot, how it affects relationships, and how to keep living and thriving afterwards. I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite of Smith’s books, but it’s a great light read and perfect for the spring or summer.