Published by Macmillan!
Both Alice and Teddy have had their fair share of bad luck. In fact, death and abandonment seem to far outdo the realms of being a bit on the unlucky side. However, it would also seem that all is about to change when Alice decides to buy a lottery ticket, worth hundreds of million of dollars, for Teddy’s birthday in honour of him turning eighteen. The thing about Teddy, though, is he’s not just Alice and her cousin, Leo’s, best friend. He’s also maybe the guy she fell in love with somewhere between the nine years they’ve known one another. But the question is, how does one spend that kind of money if they just so happen to win the lottery? And will Alice ever start to believe in luck the way she does love? Only the numbers will tell.
‘Windfall’ is pure and warm-hearted, just like our main character Alice — who I think might be the first Alice I’ve ever read a whole book about. Reading a book in which the character shares the same name as you seems to alter your entire experience of the story somewhat. I found, anyway. This is perhaps why, for me, ‘Windfall’ felt very nostalgic to read. Being lead by her heart near constantly and not yet jaded by the world, even when it had handed Alice nothing but sadness and, well, bad luck, seemed reminiscent of the resilience you find in children, as well as her relentless need to love hard and do good for those in need.
With this said, I would have taken Alice to be quite naive if not for the incredible character development that takes place in the latter half of the book. Alice deals with a lot in the wake of her parents dying thirteen months apart when she’s nine-years-old. As well as the incomprehensible grief, she has to somehow battle with her identity as a daughter and her placement within a new family unit living with her Aunt, Uncle and Leo. She also deals with similar questions all eighteen-year-olds on the cusp of going off to university face, but with the extra heavy weight of wanting to make her deceased parents proud and fulfil their own paths both through charity work and her mother’s dreams to attend Stanford University. Alice overcomes a lot of personal battles that you’re not initially aware of, which goes to show Jennifer E. Smith’s knack for weaving more complex narratives into her writing, writing of which felt breathtakingly whimsical, by the way.
I need to hold up my hands and admit I didn’t completely love Teddy like I expected to, though. As much as I love a slow burn between the love interests, it didn’t feel like by the end, dare I say it, Teddy deserved Alice. He’s erratic and a little immature and a lot of his not so likeable traits seem to go by unnoticed by Alice even though, often, she’s the one left high and dry because of his inability to take criticism. That said, the fact that Teddy is difficult to keep pinned down could be due to his issues with his father, leaving him uncertain and unable to anchor himself to anything concrete. I guess, then I would have liked a bit more of the development we saw in Alice to be explored in Teddy too so that he has the potential to appear more redeemable in his hasty, sometimes selfish actions across the book. Still, with the first person narration from Alice’s perspective, and with a lot going on in her own mind, I wouldn’t have wanted to take away from her own story and shift the limelight, because her own growth was so important. I just need to know that Teddy grew up from being a bit of a silly boy, okay?
On the surface, ‘Windfall’ is a sweet contemporary about good fortune, young love and carrying out random acts of kindness. But, don’t be fooled, because it packs a punch, and in such a gorgeously executed fashion, too. One that you’d probably happily drown in the depths of.
“Sitting here in the darkening kitchen, I’m struck by how different this feels. There’s something blunt about the pain right now, something almost toothless. Maybe it’s the fading light, or maybe it’s the puppy in my lap. Maybe it’s just temporary, or maybe this is what happens when you talk through something so that it starts to lose its knife-sharp edge, so that the corners get sanded down into something duller, something slightly less acute.”
Thank you to My Kinda Book for sending a review copy!*
‘Windfall’ is out 4th May!