Sunday, November 22, 2015

99 Days by Katie Cotugno - Review

From the acclaimed author of How to Love comes another stunning contemporary novel, perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen.

Molly Barlow is facing one long, hot summer—99 days—with the boy whose heart she broke and the boy she broke it for . . . his brother.

Day 1: Julia Donnelly eggs my house my first night back in Star Lake, and that's how I know everyone still remembers everything. She has every right to hate me, of course: I broke Patrick Donnelly's heart the night everything happened with his brother, Gabe. 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 wouldn't quit till he got me to come to this party, and I'm surprised to find 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.

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I'm trying to think of a way to describe 99 Days succinctly and I can't seem to figure it out. It follows a girl who hates herself (even if she doesn't realize it) almost as much as the town hates her (which she understands just fine). The journey that Molly goes through in this novel is grueling and honest and ugly and real and I think that the way she emerges - not pristine, not renewed, but rather still bruised and hurt and working on her own forgiveness - is the reason why the book stuck with me so much. 

Molly is such a complicated character. Sometimes I loved her and sometimes she drove me crazy but I was always rooting for her, probably because she was so incredibly hard on herself, even if she wouldn't admit it. There is a wonderful balance between heartwarming moments in her past with Patrick and her current, not so ideal situation in the small town that hates her. I loved watching as she learned to forgive herself and work through her own feelings after everything that happened in the past. 

Patrick and Gabe were wonderful foils. I loved how the Patrick remembered in Molly's flashbacks was so different from the Patrick in the present - much like Molly is so different than the girl she was before. There seems to be a big disconnect for everyone, what happened to everyone in the space between the event in the past and the time of the story, and I liked that aspect - no one really knowing where anyone went (physically or otherwise). I also loved the witty banter between all the characters (particularly Gabe and Molly). 

The thing I loved most about this book, though, is the ending. I don't want to get too spoilery but I love books that don't end how I expect them, that end in ways that I don't usually see as ideal but that pulls me in and makes me believe in it anyway. 99 Days did that for me - it pulled me in, hinted at a happy ending in the way Molly thinks endings should be happy, and then ends happy in a way she, and the readers, didn't really expect. Girl Power baby *raises fist*

More on Katie Cotugno and her books here:

Katie Cotugno went to Catholic school for thirteen years which makes her, as an adult, both extremely superstitious and prone to crushes on boys wearing blazers. She routinely finds herself talking about the romantic endeavors of characters on TV shows as if they actually exist in the world.

Katie is a Pushcart Prize nominee whose work has appeared in The Broadkill Review, The Apalachee Review, and Argestes, as well as on Her first novel, HOW TO LOVE, is due out from Balzer + Bray on October 1st, 2013.

The great loves of Katie's life include child's pose, her little sister, and mozzarella and honey sandwiches. She lives in Boston (and in sin) with her boyfriend, Tom.

**If you liked 99 Days, check out If I Lie by Corinne Jackson: Amazon, B&NGoodreads**

Happy Reading!