Saturday, April 11, 2015

Review: 99 Days by Katie Cotugno

99 Days by Katie Cotugno
Release Date:  April 21, 2015
Publisher:  Balzer & Bray

Day 1: Julia Donnelly eggs my house my first night back in Star Lake, and that’s how I know everyone still remembers everything—how I destroyed my relationship with Patrick the night everything happened with his brother, Gabe. How I wrecked their whole family. Now I’m serving out my summer like a jail sentence: Just ninety-nine days till I can leave for college, and be done.

Day 4: A nasty note on my windshield makes it clear Julia isn’t finished. I’m expecting a fight when someone taps me on the shoulder, but it’s just Gabe, home from college and actually happy to see me. “For what it’s worth, Molly Barlow,” he says, “I’m really glad you’re back.”

Day 12: Gabe got me to come to this party, and I’m actually having fun. I think he’s about to kiss me—and that’s when I see Patrick. My Patrick, who’s supposed to be clear across the country. My Patrick, who’s never going to forgive me.

And it all just kept going downhill from there.  This review may be a teensy weensy bit spoilery. I'm not intending to spoil, but I may say a small something-something that isn't exactly in the summary.  So read at your own risk.

Okay, I liked the book in the beginning.  It sucked me in right away, and I felt very sympathetic to Molly and how much she's been ostracized in this small town she once lived in and which she now must return to for her summer before college.  I really felt for her at first due to all the things her ex-friends are doing to make her miserable, and I flew through the pages, especially after I met Gabe.

She had actually been broken up with Patrick when this "one night that changed everything" happened with Gabe a year ago.  So at first, I really didn't understand why everyone was so upset. They were broken up, people!  Get over it!  But then, things began to change for me.  I started to not like Molly.  My sympathy for her went down considerably because she was just too fickle and I did not agree with her actions.

So Gabe's the only one that will give her the time of day.  And this is a good guy.  A genuinely good guy whose sexy sweet, and wants her to be his girlfriend.  That's where things begin to go horribly wrong for me in this story... because Patrick is in town too, even though he wasn't supposed to be.  So yeah, this story has a lot of cheating in it, and call me traditional or whatever, but I don't find cheating romantic in the slightest.  I was not a fan of The English Patient, Bridges of Madison County or any supposed love story where the whole tragedy of  it all is that two people who cheated on their spouses can't be together in the end because they have, um, spouses.

Nevermind that the cheating in this story didn't involve spouses or sex and was just kissing.  I wanted to reach through the pages and throttle Molly and ask her, "did you not learn the lesson the first time?  Did all the eggs on your house, nasty notes and other things your ex-friends are doing not teach you anything?"  Apparently not... because she begins to make her same mistakes yet again.

I did love Gabe.  He was a genuinely good guy.  He's the character I ended up liking the most, followed closely by Tess, Patrick's new girlfriend, because she stayed true to herself and her character, and was sweet enough to give Molly a chance when everyone else would not.  She could easily have been a cliche new girlfriend who automatically hates her new boyfriend's ex just because.  But she didn't do that... because she's a good person.

I hated how this story ended.  I felt like when I got to the end, I had been severely cheated in more ways than one.  There wasn't enough closure for me, and my dislike of the characters, all but Gabe and Tess, really hurt things for me.  Molly has a small amount of growth, but I felt it was too little too late.

So what I did like:  the writing was good.  I liked the author's ability to set an emotional stage, and I liked Gabe and Tess.  But the story as a whole was a disappointment for me.

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