Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith is one young adult novel I will not be recommending to you, my readers. Before I explain why, though, I’d like to give you a brief run-down of what the book is about.
Alice is an orphan. Her parents died about 1 year apart when she was only 9 years old, so for the past 9 years, she has lived with her aunt, uncle, and cousin in Chicago. During these years, she has spent many happy hours with her cousin (Leo) and their mutual friend, Teddy. Gradually, Alice has fallen in love with Teddy – the caring, happy-go-lucky, laid-back guy she jokingly calls Ted E. Bear.
For Teddy’s 18th birthday, Alice purchases him a coming-of-age gift – a lottery ticket. But not just any lottery ticket. The winning lottery ticket.
And suddenly Teddy’s (and Alice’s) life changes.
Since Teddy’s dad left him and his mom when Teddy was a child, he has lived in humble circumstances. So the $141.3 million lottery win opens endless opportunities. Unfortunately, these opportunities start to go to Teddy’s head. He’s no longer the caring, happy-go-lucky guy Alice knew. And now, she’s afraid he’ll never return the romantic love she has for him.
The book itself is typical of the YA genre. Fairly cheesy by my standards, but I can see where teenage girls would lap up this frustrated love story. So why am I giving this book a negative review?
I generally do a little background checking on the author of books I choose to review before I request the book for review. I found one of Jennifer E. Smith’s books for sale on Christian Book Distributors, so I thought Windfall would be a “clean” read. I was, however, very disappointed by the overt homosexual themes in this book. Leo – Alice’s cousin – has a boyfriend, Max, who attends college in Michigan. Leo is torn between pursuing his dream at the Art Institute of Chicago or going to college with Max.
I tried to ignore this in the beginning of the book, hoping it would just be a background “fact.” But as the story progresses, Leo’s relationship with Max gains more importance. He plans to visit him during spring break, and the conversation between Alice and him unquestionably exposes the immorality of this relationship:
[Leo to Alice]: “I still can’t believe my parents are letting me -”
[Alice to Leo] “Spend the whole spring break alone with your college boyfriend?…I can. They love Max. And they trust you.” (138)
By Leo’s plain proclamation on page 175 (“I love him”), I was done.
It’s not so much that this book features homosexuality. I would be OK if homosexual relationships were portrayed as sinful. But they are not only recognized as OK, but they are also given equivalent legitimacy with straight relationships.
I ordered this book with the intention of putting it in my classroom library (I’m a middle school education major). However, as a Christian, I feel responsible for the type of literature I endorse in my classroom. For this reason, I cannot endorse books, like Windfall, that portray sin as “good.” With this in mind, I will not be recommending this book to anyone.
And this book will not be going into my library stash.
Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest opinion as represented in this review.