For my thoughts: Bridget Blogs Books (opens in in window/tab)
I was really hoping that this book would be my next favorite, but it ended up being kind of blah. I'll admit, I was really only interested in this book because the cover is freaking gorgeous. Those colors just spoke to me and I really hoped that the story would be as beautiful as the cover.
The main issue with this book is that it's predictable. Imagine the cliche story about someone winning the lottery and you have this entire book nailed. It has all the elements that someone would usually come up with from the extravagant spending of money, wanting to do something nice for the mom, a gambling father that isn't around, and one best friend in love with the other. Add in the token gay best friend, the fact that the main character is an orphan and I'm sure you could figure out the main plot, if not the entire book.
Unfortunately, the predictability of the story wasn't the only downfall. The main character, Alice, was very hard to connect to. She was perfect in every way imaginable, and not in the good way. She spends a lot of time volunteering at soup kitchens, teaching a child to read, and doing various other charitable things. When she is offered a portion of the winnings, without hesitating she turns it down. What kind of person turns down that kind of money, at least without thinking about it first? She then thinks that she has the right to judge how Teddy spends his money and looks down on him for not immediately donating it to charity.
The romance was also quite bland. You're supposed to root for Teddy and Alice, but honestly I didn't really care for either of the characters. Teddy was not the greatest friend and it was hard to see why Alice was in love with him. As I said before, Alice spends a lot of time telling Teddy what he should do with the money and it almost felt mom-like, which isn't something you want in a relationship that is potentially romantic.
The redeeming qualities of the book were not many, but they were strong. Strong enough to keep me reading and make me nearly cry. Alice has been through a lot due to losing her parents. There was an underlying theme of belonging throughout the book, that really should have been the center focus. The moments between Alice and her relatives were poignant and heartfelt. Seeing Alice's character develop and accept that she no longer had her parents was something I would have liked to have more of a focus on that.
While this isn't my favorite book, it wasn't bad by any means. I wish that certain things, like the romance was less of a focus and there was more of an emphasis on family.
I received a copy from Netgalley.
As soon as I saw this title pop up on Netgalley I put a request in. Delighted when I was approved.
An interesting enough plot, but I can’t say I really liked the characters all that much. Alice lives with her cousin Leo after the deaths of her parents, and has lived with them for some time. She’s got a hopeless crush on Leo’s best friend Teddy.
Alice is really smart and her dream is to go to college at Stanford because she believes that’s what her parents would have wanted. But when on Teddy’s 18th birthday, Alice buys him a lottery ticket, the ticket is actually winner and Teddy wins a humungous jackpot. Which naturally changes everything. Teddy lives with his mom in a crappy apartment, a downturn after his dad lost all their money due to a gambling habit. Now their lives can massively improve.
I don’t get Alice’s crush on Teddy. He’s self-centred and a jerk. I didn’t like him much at all. Alice herself was too much of a goody-two-shoes for my liking. She had a fairly good emotional journey throughout the course of the novel, dealing with her feelings for Teddy, the huge changes that came about since Teddy’s lottery win, the impact it has on their friendship. And of course a hot new guy comes into her life as well, there may or may not be feelings there. Then there’s Alice’s college issues.
Spoiler, but this bit really annoyed me.
Teddy offers Alice half of the winnings as she was the one who purchased the tickets. She turns him down. SHE TURNS HIM DOWN. I just can’t imagine an 18 year old without parents turning down that much money. It could make a huge difference to her life. She volunteers at a soup kitchen and has a do gooder nature about her. Good for her. But she’s so saintly it became across as very annoying, at least to this reader. I just can’t believe she turned the money down. She didn’t even take a small sum or anything.
Teddy of course achieves instant fame and does what any teenage boy would naturally do – splurge on himself and his friends. With Alice and Leo to try and get him to remain grounded. None of these changes seem to sit well with Alice, who’s still trying to work up the nerve to tell Teddy how she feels but they are arguing more and more. So she distracts herself when a new guy turns up working at the soup kitchen she volunteers at. They hit it off, and suddenly Teddy’s jealous. Insert eye rolling.
While this is going on Alice is trying to help Leo decide where he wants to go to college. Leo’s boyfriend is going to one college and Leo has a dream of going somewhere else, and he’s debating on following his boyfriend or trying a long distance thing. Leo is struggling with the decision, but he was a good friend to Alice. He was there when she needed someone to listen to and cheer her up.
There was some really good parental involvement in this one, from Teddy’s mom and Alice’s uncle and aunt. Likeable adults with good heads on who actually listen to what their kids are telling them. Alice’s aunt and uncle have some good listening skills, her aunt wants to make sure she knows what she wants when applying for colleges, making the choice for herself and not doing something just simply because this was where her parents went or what Alice thinks they wanted for her. To be in a city she barely remembers anymore, even though she may have lived there briefly when she was a kid.
This part of Alice’s journey was quite moving, and had a good emotional impact to it. There were a few scenes when Alice’s dealing with these issues made my eyes mist over. Particularly when she tries to talk to her uncle who was her dad’s brother about what her parents were like after she makes a trip to where she used to live. Quite bitter sweet and a definite tear jerker.
The romance angle was completely unsurprising. Kind of predictable really. Teddy did make some personality improvements by the end of the novel, again, not entirely surprising.
Not my favourite novel by this author, can’t see myself reading this one again. Jennifer E Smith is one of my favourite contemporary YA writers, and usually an autobuy author for me. Though unfortunately this book was a miss for me.
Thank you to Negalley and Pan MacMillan for approving my request to view the title.
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.
I really enjoyed reading this fun story. The first thing that really got my attention was the cover of this one. Isn't it gorgeous? After reading the description, I knew that this was a book that I would need to read. I just love the premise. I don't really play the lottery but anytime the jackpot is at an outrageous level, I do buy a single ticket. I know that odds are that I will never win but from the moment I put the ticket in my pocket until the numbers are drawn, I can dream about it. I have some pretty big dreams when it comes to lottery winnings. Usually by the time I find out that I didn't win, I have thought of twenty different plans for handling the money. While I read this book, I really thought about what would I have done if I had that kind of money as a teenager and it wasn't pretty.
Alice, Leo, and Teddy have been best friends for a long time. Alice has been living with her cousin Leo and his family ever since her parents died. Alice decides to get Teddy a lottery ticket for his 18th birthday just because he is now legally old enough to buy a ticket. Teddy is having party in the small apartment he shared with his mother and the whole group celebrates his birthday. The next morning when they hear the numbers that were drawn, they are in for a big surprise.
Alice lost both of her parents when she was only nine years old. She tries to make them proud through her actions. She volunteers at a variety of organizations and is very focused on getting into the college of her dreams. Leo is trying to decide which college he really wants to go to along with figuring out his relationship with Max. Teddy didn't really have a lot of plans before winning the lottery and he has a lot to figure out once he does.
I liked the characters in this story and thought that they felt realistic. Teddy handled everything better than a lot of adults would have but he was impulsive enough that it felt genuine. Alice was very reserved and not quite sure if she was making the right choices. Leo was supportive of his friends but also having a hard time making some of the important decisions that need to be made at this stage in his life.
This story really hits on all of the highs and lows of coming into a sudden fortune. There is also a small bit of romance to keep things interesting. All three of the main characters learn a lot about themselves and each other over the course of the story. They do open up about a lot of things that have been unsaid for a long time.
I would recommend this book to others. It was a fun read that moved quickly. This is only the second book by Jennifer E. Smith that I have read but I do enjoy her writing style. I hope to read more of her work very soon.
I received a review copy of this book from Delacorte Press via Blogging for Books.
This was a really cute story. I can't tell you how many hours of my life I have spent planning out what I would do if I were to win the lottery so it was fun reading about these kids who actually had that happen.