Genres: Young Adult, New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Release Date: April 21, 2015 by Balzer + Bray
Find it here: GoodReads | Amazon
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 has proven to be quite divisive. With an average GoodReads rating of only 3.54 (ouch) and reviews decrying the element of cheating and the unredeemable characters, I knew this would probably be a love it or hate it kind of read. Thankfully, I seem to be in the minority with this one because I genuinely enjoyed 99 Days.
Molly has returned to her small hometown after spending her senior year at boarding school. She fled the gossip and the taunting last year but is now back to spend the summer before heading to college. The reason for the ill will? A one-time transgression with her ex-boyfriend's brother. What should have been a private matter became shockingly public when her own mother used the events as fodder for her next best selling novel. Suddenly Molly's private life was everywhere, including a People magazine spread that gleefully revealed how the book's events were based on the author's own daughter. Molly was instantly persona non grata and no one was shy about letting her know it.
Patrick was my person, my other half. I never felt stuck or cut off or like there was other stuff I’d rather be doing, never felt like there was anyplace else I’d rather be.
At least, not until the moment it did.Molly and Patrick were childhood friends and then first loves. An exclusive club of two where they thought alike, acted alike and kept others at arms length. It wasn't until Molly started pushing her boundaries and questioning their insular relationship that the cracks began to show. A sudden break-up led to an event that became the catalyst for all that was to come. Afterward, an unsure and confused Molly quickly retreats to the comfort of what she knew best: Patrick. But the damage had been done.
The level of vitriol aimed at Molly was shocking. Egging her house, keying her car, name calling and nasty notes. Why not go ahead and sew the big red "A" on her hoodie? Cotugno portrayed an example of slut shaming and a double standard that was as shocking as it was utterly believable (and all too commonplace). Molly, feeling such guilt over her own actions and their repercussions, initially did little to stand up for herself (or wave the B.S. flag for the double standard). Instead, she felt almost deserving of what was being dished out so generously.
And then there's Gabe, Patrick's older brother, who readily admits the unfairness of the situation. When he begins to find ways to spend time with Molly, she finds herself with not only an ally and a friend, but with someone who just may make the 99 days of summer worthwhile.
"Is this a date? I mean, like, right now? You and me?"
"I don't know, Molly Barlow. Do you want it to be?"I'm hesitant to turn this review into a rebuttal of all the criticism heaped upon the book, but with all the shade being thrown at it I have a few things to say. What I see most is the feeling that the main character(s) are unredeemable cheaters who are deserving of every bad thing that comes their way. (Again, ouch.) I tried to reserve judgment of these characters and instead saw them for what they were: young, deeply flawed, and totally human. Molly did not always make the best choices. In fact, she often knowingly made the wrong ones. And sometimes it was frustrating. But I found myself empathizing with her and understanding in some way. Her relationship with Patrick had long been one of extreme closeness, he was her "other half." And the end of their relationship was sudden and, ultimately, unresolved. They both desperately needed closure and, unfortunately, stumbled and felt their way there blindly while hurting others in the process. It didn't make it right, but I understood it. Another point for Molly? She never made excuses for her actions and she never blamed anyone else.
I *love* that Cotugno did not take the easy route here. She could have made Molly a more sympathetic character. She could have painted Patrick and Gabe as swaggering male archetypes who were oblivious to their own failings. But she didn't. Instead she created these oh-so-fallible characters who sometimes meant well, sometimes knowingly veered the wrong way, but who always felt real to me and worthy of second chances to do better and be better.
99 Days was emotional and thought provoking and completely authentic. I felt connected to the characters and was truly invested in the story. 99 Days may not be for everyone but it resonated with me and is one that I'll highly recommend.
Have you read 99 Days? If so, what did you think? How do feel about cheating in novels? Is it a deal breaker for you? Tell me about it in the comments.