Tuesday, April 14, 2015

99 Days - Katie Cotugno

99 Days Katie Cotugno book cover
99 Days by Katie Cotugno
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: April 21, 2015
Source/Format: Edelweiss (Thanks!) || e-galley
[I received this book from the publisher. This in no way affects the opinions expressed in my review.]

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. 

99 Days is a difficult novel to review, even though I personally thought it was good. While it’s simple enough to appreciate the complexity of these characters, the situations they’re in are frustrating and terrible, and they often morph into unlikable people at unexpected moments. It’s a testament to Cotugno’s writing ability, however, that she manages to make all the events in 99 Days feel like authentic emotional responses, and that she gives readers something to like about each of these characters, in spite of their flaws.

Inspired by the style Cotugno used in writing a chapter for each of the ninety-nine days Molly counts down, here are nine things that stood out about 99 Days:

(1) Molly – It’s hard not to root for Molly right off the bat, considering the amount of ostracizing and mean things done to her. Plus, she’s genuinely likable, smart and fun. But readers are also subjected to her high-strung teen emotions, which cause her to make some questionable choices too.

(2) Gabriel – Gabe is seriously my type of guy. He’s easygoing, sociable and just has the ability to make sure that when you’re with him, everything feels easy and safe and right. He’s just so freaking charming that it’s hard to realize that he, too, isn’t perfect.

(3) Patrick – Patrick is real complicated right from the start. He’s Gabe’s polar opposite, much more keen on solitude and comfort. He’s got his own charming qualities though, in particular, kindness, sweetness and a strong amount of devotion. But his flaws stand out in stark relief, because they escalate the tension of many a situation. 

(4) Friendship – Oh, how messy friendship can be! Cotugno shows readers all sorts of things about friendships here: the friends you’ve known for a lifetime, learning to trust new friends, the way betrayal or abandonment colors a friendship, the choices you need to learn to make as a real friend. It’s not easy to navigate the waters of friendship, particularly when your friends are so closely intertwined with your community and love life.

(5) Family – Familial relationships can be just as difficult to navigate, particularly if you and your mother are not exactly best buddies. Molly’s relationship with her mother is definitely of interest, but her relationship with the Donnelly family and her boss’ family are also real compelling. Family can be by blood or by choice, and Cotugno sprinkles a little of both into her novel.

(6) Love – Romance is definitely the focal point for this story. While there were definitely things I did not like, I still felt like Cotugno allowed everything that developed between Molly, Gabe and Patrick to do so organically. Whether driven by emotion or driven by her own mind, Molly’s feelings were so believable. It’s seriously a strong testament towards how complicated feelings can be sometimes, and how unpredictable people’s choices can be because of the mix of emotions they feel.

(7) Teenage Dream – I really like how Cotugno made all the things that happen – the make-ups, break-ups, crazy stunts, parties and more – feel like a real teen’s experience. It seriously feels like a lot of the things Molly and the gang experience are things I have experienced in some variation, and I could definitely appreciate that.

(8) Future – It was great to see that Molly thinking about her own future, and what she would like to do, was a part of the story. It’s a small part, true, but it adds an extra dimension to Molly as a character. Plus, it’s an aspect of herself that she learns a little bit more about as the story progresses.

(9) Ending – Readers will either like the way this draws to a close or hate it. Personally, it felt like the right ending for the story of Molly’s ninety-ninety days and I appreciated that a whole lot.

All in all, 99 Days is an impressive sophomore work from Katie Cotugno. It’s the kind of contemporary YA that will result in readers feeling reflective and itching to discuss Molly, Gabe, Patrick and the entirety of what happens in the span of one summer. Personally, I’d say 99 Days is a well-written, complicated story perfect for readers who are all about the nitty gritty, beautiful and ugly parts of the teenage experience.

2 comments:

  1. I think you did a great job of capturing this story! I completely agree. It was really hard to read but so worth it. It felt SO REAL and complicated; I really am glad I read it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Danielle @ Love at First PageApril 14, 2015 at 6:24 PM

    Lovely review, Alexa! I really liked the way you broke it down into 9 pieces. While I know this book is not for me, I've heard great things about the author's writing and I hope to try one of her books some day.

    ReplyDelete

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