I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.99 Days by Katie Cotugno
Published by Balzer + Bray on 4/21/2015
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Romance, Young Adult
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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.\r\n\r\nDay 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.”\r\n\r\nDay 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 by Katie Cotugno is getting some flack from early readers, mostly in part because of the cheating aspects of the story. But I really liked it. In it is more beautiful prose from Cotugno, who also gave us How To Love, another phenomenal story about finding love twice. 99 Days is a bit different than How To Love though. Where How To Love explores the themes of young, semi-religous lovers and the fallout from teenage sex, 99 Days is more about redemption and learning to live with – and perhaps embrace – one’s mistakes. The message of forgiveness is a powerful one. A year ago, Molly fled the small town where she grew up, to finish her high school education at a boarding school in Arizona. It was about as far away as she could get, and she rues the idea of coming home for summer break, before heading off to college. She left her life in a mess; it was tangled in lies, fear and guilt. Here’s the thing: if cheating is your trigger, don’t read this. Cheating in books doesn’t typically bother me, especially if there is a message to go with the story. In 99 Days, Molly cheats – twice. Plenty of people will grip the book in frustration, calling her TSTL, but really…I thought it was incredibly honest. In fact, that’s probably what I liked most about this book: it was really fucking honest. You can’t cheat and expect to walk away unscathed. People are going to judge you, people are going to talk about you and it’s pretty much all your fault and you’re going to have to figure out how to deal with it. So Molly semi-cheated on her long-time boyfriend, Patrick. I say “semi” because:
(For the record, it’s still the greatest sitcom that ever graced TV.)
When Molly returns, she has to deal with the fallout from her actions. Her BFF bounced on her, her ex-boyfriend’s mom and sister now hate her and the only one who will talk to her is the guy she cheated on him with, Gabe. Who, by the way, is Patrick’s brother, and no one actually blames him, which does a great job of illustrating: The Double Standard. There is some serious slut-shaming in this book, but it’s with a purpose. There is a double-standard in our world where women who sleep with multiple guys are whores, and the guys are Men and they suffer no repercussions, besides the occasional attaboy. What the hell is that, anyway? Cotugno does a great job illustrating that double standard throughout 99 Days, with mean teenage pranks, vicious name-calling and lots of eggs. The book isn’t perfect. It isn’t meant to be. It tells the story of a girl who made mistakes and tries to figure out how to get her life back. Yes, she spends a long time feeling sorry for herself when she was one half of the pair that screwed up, but she’s a teenager. I don’t expect her to make adult decisions at 17 or 18 years old. And that’s why I loved it. It’s a roll-around-in-the-dirt muddy story and it’s apologetic. It was honest, it was true to the scenario and it didn’t have a prettily-packaged ending. But it does show the struggles of bad decisons, and how hard it can be to learn from them, or admit you might be wrong. Its imperfections make it – perfect.