I can’t say that I’ve ever thought about winning a lottery, but Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith will give readers the opportunity to daydream about just that. Eighteen-year-old Teddy ends up winning 141 million dollars from a ticket given to him by his best friend Alice and suddenly, his life completely changes.
Teddy isn’t a stranger to hardship. He lives in a one-bedroom apartment with his mother because his father gambled all of their money away, then left. When Teddy wins enough money to change their lives, he is elated. And, of course, he begins to make changes to their lives instantly. But does the money change him instantly? Teddy doesn’t think so – but Alice might think a little differently. She adores Teddy for who he already is, so when he suddenly begins to act differently, dress differently, and toss money around like he’s always had it – well, it makes her pretty uncomfortable.
Alice knows hardship too: she lost both of her parents within about a year of one another. When they died, she had to move from her home in California to live in Chicago with her aunt, uncle, and cousin. She has grieved them since they died, and ultimately she has trouble discerning whether or not she is living her best life or the life she thinks her parents would have wanted for her.
Ultimately, Teddy has to figure out how he wants to spend the money and who he wants to become as a person with money. And Alice has to work out her feelings for Teddy and what she wants to do with the rest of her life. It may not seem so, but this is all interconnected and it is wonderful.
I love the way the author takes these topics that really could be super-heavy and places them in her story gently so we don’t feel overburdened with sadness or grief or anything like that, but we are indeed fully invested. She makes the story fun and funny but at the same time, she doesn’t shy away with all of the “serious” that Teddy and Alice are going through. The universe has dealt them some pretty crappy hands and we are here to witness their story. There are no twists here to shake up the story. What we are getting is exactly what is on the page, and I love that.
This is a story with a romance, but that doesn’t push romance in our faces. It is there, but it doesn’t overshadow anything. This is great, because the way the romance portion of the story works out is weaved into the rest of the plot. Alice experiences feelings that are a little clumsy and awkward and full of that longing that we all know, and Teddy’s actions often (but not always) make us want to say WHAT ARE YOU DOING! but everything comes together so well. In the meantime, there are great family relationships written in (LOVE this) and these characters have wonderful support systems to help them through everything. I really did love seeing how this one worked itself out. And I couldn’t put this book down while I was reading, which is pretty standard for me reading a book by this author.