If there would be one thing that best fits my 2017 Good Reads Challenge, it would definitely be a Jennifer Smith novel; Windfall to be exact. It’s the 4th book I’ve read so far in 2017 where I challenged myself to read 12 books at least. Jennifer Smith is a YA (young adult) writer and yes, WindFall is a young adult novel. I still read YA novels (because who doesn’t?) from time to time especially when I find the plot interesting. There really is something in YA novels that makes it so captivating yet so young still and Windfall is not an exception.
As an avid reader of YA novels, I always search the meaning of the title first before reading the whole book. In this way, I am giving myself a privilege to have a gist of what a story is all about. According to Oxford American Dictionary, windfall is a piece of unexpected good fortune, typically one that involves a receiving a large amount of money.
And yes, this novel is about that. The hero of the story, Teddy becomes the youngest lottery winner in the history of lotto and it was all thanks to his best friend and the heroine of the story, Alice who picked out the winning numbers and bought the ticket as a present for his 18th birthday.
It’s a typical story – the part where the girl is secretly in love with her guy best friend who doesn’t seem to notice that said girl best friend has been harboring romantic feelings for him. What makes it an interesting story is really winning the lottery – winning a big amount of money at such a young age!
Imagine winning millions of dollars. What would you do with all the money?
I know I’d probably buy a whole lot of shoes and clothes. And I’d travel first class all the time. I’ll take my friends and my family to explore other countries like Europe and US because I’ve always wanted to land my feet into these places.
I’d also buy a house inside a village in Makati so I could have a place I could call my own because I’ve always wanted to live in a village and I can’t imagine being far away from Makati. It surely is a big house with a pool and a nice garden where I can have friends over. I’d have a room with my own bathroom that has a bath tub and a shower. Plus a huge bed, like those you see in hotels and a walk in closet like that of Sarah Jessica Parker’s character, Carrie Bradshaw in the Sex and the City movie or Princess Mia’s of Princess Diaries 2.
On the other hand, I’d be wise about my money too and not go spending it all on stuff. I’d save some and invest some more. I’d even use it as capital for a business. This is the responsible, adult part of me talking. In reality, while I have some money stashed away, I know I still need to up my financial game more which means I need to stop almost living from paycheck to paycheck and getting out of debt particularly with my mom!
The downside of the story is how their romance felt so ordinary and mundane to me. This is simply because I didn’t think they had much chemistry to begin with.
Teddy didn’t come from a well off family. In fact, from the way he was described in the book, I’d say he was poor. But he’s totally a Mr. Popular Guy who fleets from one girlfriend to another (as most heroes in young adults do). He was raised by a single parent as his father ran off on them after his gambling addiction got way out of hand and only kept in touch on rare occasions such as his birthday.
Ali was a smart orphan whose parents died a year apart. One from sickness and the other in a car accident. She was raised by her aunt and uncle (her father’s older brother) in Chicago though she was originally from San Francisco. She was very active in doing charity work because of her parents.
The problems these two have faced in their personal lives as teenagers are quite heavy. When Teddy’s dad ran off on them, he and his mom were forced to leave behind the good life they once had. And even though his dad was a rare presence in his life, Teddy loved him a lot. It was evident how much he loved his father when he returned to his life – their lives – after Teddy won the lottery and he was just so willing to welcome him back in his life. He was ready to just believe his story about curing his gambling addiction and finally holding down a good job.
Alice had to deal with the loss of both parents and moving far away from the place she once called home.
Nevertheless, I was impressed by how the author, Jennifer E. Smith, was able to show that both the hero and heroine of the story grew to conquer the challenges they both faced. Here are some of the key points that we learned from Teddy:
1) Learn to how to manage money and even do some good with it. I was afraid for a while back then that he might fall into the curse of lottery winners. All that money was gone simply because he failed to see that even such a big amount can dwindle down to nothing.
2) Learned the art of tough love. It’s not easy to refuse someone you love especially when they’re suffering or in need. And it certainly isn’t easy to refuse – especially in Filipino culture where we have the utang na loob concept – when you know that you’ll be hearing harsh words spoken about you like being called selfish should you refuse to lend money when they know you have something to give! But I’m glad Teddy learned that the best probable way to help his dad was not to rescue him from the trouble he put himself in.
3) The last and my favorite was when I thought how sweet it was of Teddy to notice the one thing that he can at least give to Ali, his best friend that he would not refuse. Teddy realizes that he wanted to change for the better, to become a better version of himself in order to earn the love of Ali. It was also very considerate of him to not jump into a relationship with her so soon when he was still trying to figure things out for himself in order not to hurt his best friend.
As for Ali, I like that:
1) She was finally able to embrace openness. Ali was a closed off person. She didn’t feel like she belonged to her family because they weren’t her real parents and Leo was not her brother. She had her eyes set on going to Stanford for College which was all the way in California because she felt like it was what her mom would’ve wanted for her. She did so much volunteer work because she felt like she should follow the footsteps of her parents who did a lot of charitable work. Basically, she was living behind her parents’ shadows.
To borrow from my favorite how-to-cope-with-a-break-up movie, 500 Days of Summer, when Ali looked back, she only saw the good things. I’m glad she was eventually able to look back to see the other side of things for a better perspective.
If you are in for a book who will encapsulate youth, friendship and young romance, then this one is definitely a catch. I haven’t encountered a Jennifer E. Smith book I didn’t love just yet and like I said this is already my third novel including the two of her amazing works (Statistical Probability of Love and What Happy Looks Like) give yourself a good read of Jennifer Smith’s WindFall everyone deserves the wonders of YA novels!
My name is Liz. I’m a twenty-something single gal who loves living in the city and discovering the many awesome things I can do around the Metro and occasionally, those I can do outside the Metro. When I’m not having travel adventures big or small, I’m usually either reading or watching my favorite TV shows. Check out my blog at: PiecesofLiz.com
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