Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: April 21, 2015
ARC from Edelweiss
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.
The premise of 99 Days – the consequences of cheating – might be one that turns some readers away from this novel right away. I feel like along love triangles and slut shaming, cheating is one of those topics that just tends to not to sell well to young adult readers. For me, love triangles are always something I am wary of – sometimes they work, sometimes they don't (I feel like more often they unfortunately do not work). Slut shaming is pretty much a no-no for me – I hate it when female characters turn on each other, especially if it is because of a guy (like it often is in YA). Cheating is something I have not actually read about much, but in general, my opinion is one that majority shares – it is wrong and should not be done. So, it was with this slight sense of confusement and wariness that I started with 99 Days, a novel covering one summer over the life of Molly Barlow.
After spending her senior year at boarding school in Arizona, Molly Barlow is back home for the summer. A year before, when her mother's best selling novel came out and revealed to all that Molly had cheated on her boyfriend Patrick with Patrick's brother Gabe, Molly instantly became the local town slut, a girl who broke the heart of the sweet, innocent Patrick. Though a year has passed, Molly still is social outcast and to make it easier for herself and to everyone else, Molly has decided to spend the summer inside, watching Netflix and counting down the days to her descend to Boston for her freshman year of college. But then she runs first into her ex-best friend Imogen, then Gabe, who actually seems happy to see her, and finally Patrick, who she thought would be out of town for summer, and realizes that her plans for summer might end up looking a lot different than they did at first.
Molly is one of those characters that I first did not really know what to think about, then kind of decided that I should probably dislike her, but eventually learned to respect and understand. If this book does something really well, it is focusing on Molly's development. Through the narrative and the 99 days back home, she turns from a slightly self-centered, lying girl who also kind of sucks as a friend to an individual who understand that she has done wrong, but also realizes that what has happened was not solely her fault. I was happy to see Cotugno discussing the double standard that usually occurs in situations were cheating is involved – the girl is bullied and blamed while being slut shamed by everyone she knows, while the guy usually walks away without criticism. It makes me angry, it should make you angry too, but at the same time, it is reality and something we just have been forced to get used to and to accept.
The two brothers, Patrick and Gabe, are very different and for me, one was likable, one not. Though I first thought I would feel for Patrick, the guy who has been cheated, I actually kind of ended up hating him. He just seems so douche and does the same exact thing to his girlfriend Molly did to him, and in general, I just felt kind of uneasy every time he was somehow involved with Molly. I liked the easy-goingness of Gabe and the way he actually seemed to care for Molly, though there were some elements of his characterisation as well I found a bit problematic (most of these became evident towards the end of the novel).
99 Days reads like an episode of something like Dawson's Creek, Gossip Girl or 90210. It is filled with relationship drama, melodramatic acts and a good amount of cheesiness. But though it is soapy and kind of silly at points, it wasn't as predictable as expected, and the ending took me by surprise for not being what I expected it to be. It is one of those books that feels perfect to be read at the beach or during a rainy day – it is quick to read, fairly funny, and though it probably won't change your life, it will entertain you like an episode of a really good teen drama you just cannot stop watching.