Friday, February 23, 2018
Windfall, written by Jennifer E. Smith. Delacorte, Penguin Random House, 2017. $24.99 ages 12 and up
Alice is not alone, although she lost her parents when she was far too young. Following their deaths, she moved from San Francisco to Chicago. There she lives with her aunt and uncle and their son, Leo. She has been with them for nine years. Leo and Alice are best friends, always looking out for each other and happy to let Teddy into their tight knit kinship. In fact, Alice has hidden feelings for Teddy.
Not knowing what to get him for his 18th birthday, she buys him a lottery ticket. It's a winner - a huge win! More money than anyone can imagine. Teddy's life with a single mother and an absent father, has not been easy. He is happy with this wondrous gift, and the incredible wealth that will allow a real reversal of fortune. He offers to share it with Alice, who turns him down. Her decision causes a rift between the two. Alice has always struggled to be like her parents ... helping others, working with the needy, selfless. She finds it hard to watch Teddy squander what he has been given, when he could do so much with it.
Funny, poignant, courageous, and even annoying at times, their story is one that will appeal to many. The characters are real, certainly flawed, but worthy of the reader's attention and even admiration. How wealth might impact a life is what those who buy lottery tickets try to imagine. In this book we certainly see how it affects friendship, family, acquaintances, and the three teens themselves. It does change everything that came before the win.
The story has an interesting premise, and is handled well by Ms. Smith. It gives readers pause for thought, and deals with issues that make us consider how lives are shaped by circumstances, luck, and even perhaps how we make our own choices for the future.
What might you do if it happened to you?