Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith (review)
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Reviewed by
Smith, Jennifer E. Windfall. Delacorte, 2017[432p]
Library ed. ISBN 978-0-399-55939-6 $21.99
Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-399-55937-2 $18.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-399-55938-9 $10.99
Reviewed from galleys Ad Gr. 7–10

Alice’s life has been defined by a desire to honor her parents’ legacy since her parents died and she was taken in by her uncle and aunt. When she gives her best friend (and maybe more) Teddy a lottery ticket for his eighteenth birthday, she is stunned when he wins fifty-three million dollars on the numbers she picked. Complementing the story of Teddy’s negotiation of this new status is the focus on Alice’s slow realization that she has been organizing her life around what she thinks were her activist parents’ dreams. As Alice tries to even Teddy’s keel, damp down her feelings for him, and open herself up to her own happiness, Teddy comes to terms with his feelings about his estranged, gambling-addicted father and attempts to transform himself into a more serious person. As this is primarily Alice’s story, however, other characters serve more as props to her arc. In a kind of reversal of the manic pixie dream girl trope, serious Alice challenges the frivolous Teddy to do something meaningful with his winnings, with the result that he proposes starting a nonprofit dedicated to funding small, random acts of charity, an outcome steeped in implausibility. Overall, this is a solid, if somewhat predictable and tropey, coming-of-age friendship/romance novel.

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