Feeling lucky? YA listeners are about to hit the jackpot with Jennifer E. Smith’s incredible new audiobook, WINDFALL. Listen to a clip and find out why the author says listening feels “a bit like magic,” in her guest blog post.
Combine plenty of romance, realistic teen drama, and one lucky lottery ticket, and you’ve got a winningly addictive listen that YA fans of all ages will love. In WINDFALL, narrator Tonya Cornelisse brings to life the story of Alice and her best friend Teddy, two teens who have grown up with their share of misfortune. Alice lost both her parents when she was young, and Teddy’s life has been torn apart by his father’s gambling addiction. Through it all, they have leaned on each other, and Alice secretly begins to fall in love with Teddy. When she buys him a winning lottery ticket on his 18th birthday, it seems like their luck is about to change. But what if winning $140 million dollars changes everything for the worse? AudioFile raves, “Cornelisse gives full depth to the emotions in this story of gains and losses.”It’s amazing how quickly audiobooks have become such a huge part of my life. A few years ago, I’d never listened to one before. Not even the cassette tapes from back in the day. But one morning, I was standing in the park across the street from my apartment, mindlessly throwing the ball for my dog the way I always do, and it occurred to me that it would be nice to use this time more productively. Not that I don’t value those thirty minutes in the park, because I do. (And so does my dog!) But rather than just zoning out, I realized I could essentially be reading a book. And since I’m always looking for ways to sneak in more reading time, I decided to try downloading an audiobook. And the rest is history.
I fell utterly in love with the format. One of the first novels I tried was The Book Thief, which I’ve listened to several more times since. It’s completely brilliant, and has remained a big favorite of mine—not just because of the story, but also the narration. Until then, it hadn’t really occurred to me that there are two factors to this whole audiobook thing. It’s not just about whether I like the book. But also whether I like the way it’s being told. And as I listened to the opening of that novel, I tried to remember the last time someone had told me a story. Not a funny anecdote shared across a dinner table. Not a reading from a novel at a bookstore. But the kind of storytelling that kids get to hear all the time. I’d forgotten what that’s like, and I was completely transported. Honestly, it felt a bit like magic.Since then, I’ve listened to sixty-four audiobooks, which seems incredible to me, since that’s sixty-four books I might not otherwise have had the time to read. And they’ve all stuck with me in really visceral ways. Sometimes, I’ll be standing near this stone wall on a very particular sort of day, and I’ll get a flash of Patti Smith’s voice from when I listened to Just Kids in that very same spot on the very same kind of day. Or I’ll bend to pick up the ball as my dog waits, panting and impatient, and it reminds me of that one part in Americanah, a sort of auditory déjà vu. At the moment, I’m listening to the Harry Potter books, and though I’ve read them each at least five or six times, I can already tell I’ll now associate them with this one tree, which has been blooming impossible shades of pink lately, and which I’ve found myself gazing at as I listen to the adventures of Harry and Ron and Hermione.
I don’t just listen in the park anymore. During The Royal We, I walked around New York City with the dopiest grin on my face, unable to keep from smiling as I ran errands. And I listened to the end of Eleanor & Park on an airplane, tears streaming down my face as the two businessmen on either side of me kept glancing over to see if I was okay. These days, I often listen while doing the dishes or walking to the subway or waiting in line somewhere. And I joke that my apartment is never quite as clean as when I’m in the middle of a particularly good audiobook, since I’m always eager for an excuse to keep listening.
A few of my own novels have been made into audiobooks too, including the most recent one, WINDFALL. And every once in a while, as I stroll along, lost in another writer’s story, I wonder if someone might be listening to mine right then. It feels like such a privilege, to enter someone’s life like that. To imagine them listening to the words I wrote, my characters whispering in their ears. I like to imagine they’re washing the dishes or throwing a ball for their dog or standing by an impossibly pink tree at a very particular time of day, the world going on around them as they listen to the story unfold.
—Author Jennifer E. Smith
Praise for WINDFALL:
“Smart and entertaining.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Smith weaves a poignant tale of teens coping with loss and change as they balance on the verge of adulthood…Fans of Morgan Matson’s and Deb Caletti’s books will want to curl up with a box of tissues as they fall under Smith’s storytelling spell.”—School Library Journal
“Smith crafts another thoughtful story about a girl on the brink of major change. Alice’s struggles are relatable, and her feelings for Teddy ring true. Particularly well-developed secondary characters put the finishing touches on this lucky find.”—Booklist
“Smith’s dynamic characters and their complex struggles…will keep readers invested.”