Book review by
Darienne Stewart, Common Sense Media
Windfall Book Poster Image
Lucky lottery ticket changes everything in winning romance.

Parents say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 8 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Lots of references to books, including Charlotte's Web, The Bell Jar, Oliver Twist, The BFG, Little Women, and Harry Potter. Outlines how lotteries work, including how payouts are handled and common issues faced by winners.

Positive Messages

Questions about how we construct self-narratives and identity, and ways that can be both limiting and liberating. Realistically shows how painful and difficult loving relationships can be, and the value in taking the necessary risk to fully commit to such relationships. Demonstrates the rippling effect of kindness, and assures that moving on is not the same as forgetting. Shows strength of family support through difficult circumstances.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Alice is a selfless volunteer inspired by her parents' commitment to public service, dedicating much of her free time to helping others (tutoring, working in a soup kitchen, etc.). She, her cousin Leo, and their friend Teddy are devoted to one another. Teddy is less reliable, but his care and consideration come through in often unexpected gestures. Teddy's sudden fortune goes to his head at first, but he eventually adjusts his mindset with help from his relatively patient friends. Alice's aunt and uncle and Teddy's mother are supportive and emotionally involved, despite her uncle's difficulty opening up about her dead father.


References to a parent's death in a car accident years earlier. Adult men argue loudly and cause a scene at a school event.


Some kissing, both brief and romantic; a joking reference to Playboy.


Occasional strong language includes "pissed," "hell," and "jackass."


Mentions of several snack foods (Oreos, Skittles, M&Ms), games and media (Skee-ball, Pac-Man, Pixar) and brands including Jet Ski, Post-it, and Velcro.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Teen who doesn't smoke is given cigarettes as an 18th birthday present. Parent drinks a beer during difficult conversation.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Windfall, another charming romance by Jennifer E. Smith (The Geography of You and Me), is centered on two teens who have endured family traumas and who see their lives changed by a winning lottery ticket. Alice lost her parents in rapid succession, one to illness and the other to a car crash. Teddy is estranged from his father, a gambling addict who abandoned his family after losing their savings and home. Leo lives with a strong, supportive family (they've taken in Alice, his cousin), but he's struggling to maintain a long-distance relationship with his boyfriend. The romance is light and sweet, with just a bit of kissing but an abundance of thoughtful, caring interactions.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Kid, 12 years old January 30, 2019

Best book I have ever read :-)

This book is an amazing love story that is so dramatic. I absolutely loved this book and read over 200 pages in one day because I was so hooked. Will definitely... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byOtterlover_2006 January 22, 2019

The strength of friendship

Great book always awesome with a mix of romance,comedy,school and family! One of the best secret romance books i’ve ever read. Great exame of what money ca... Continue reading

What's the story?

WINDFALL begins with Teddy's 18th birthday party. Alice, who has harbored a secret crush on her best friend for years, marks the occasion by giving him a lottery ticket. They're shocked when he's one of three winners of the $140 million jackpot, changing their lives overnight. The happy-go-lucky Teddy she grew to love is suddenly more distant than ever, enjoying his newfound fame and riches. Alice and Teddy had supported each other through extraordinary ordeals: the untimely death of Alice's parents and Teddy's father's ruin and abandonment of his family. As a devoted do-gooder, Alice is dismayed to see Teddy increasingly absorbed by his fortune. She's never believed much in luck, and Teddy's windfall increasingly appears to be more trouble than it's worth.

Is it any good?

This romance unfolds slowly and as you might expect -- but the real pleasure here is in seeing Alice, Teddy, and Leo challenged to reexamine who they think they want to be. Windfall is a long 400-plus pages, but readers will enjoy the time with Alice, who has a kind but aching heart. Her romantic interest in Teddy, a classically rakish character, is less absorbing than the big questions Alice wrestles with.

Author Jennifer E. Smith takes a fresh look at the question of what you might do if you were rich, and teases out new threads: What if you had a chance to share in a friend's good fortune? If you've been dealt some terrible hands, can you accept good luck? If you've never suffered misfortune, should you feel guilty? What responsibility do we have to share good fortune with others? Windfall is a great conversation starter for families.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the enduring appeal of romances like Windfall. Do you like stories of seeing how two people get together, or do you prefer will-they-or-won't-they plots?

  • If you've read other stories by Jennifer E. Smith, how does this compare? What similarities do you see among her female main characters?

  • What do you think you'd do if you won the lottery?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love romance and coming-of-age stories

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

Top advice and articles

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate