April 21, 2015

Review: 99 Days by Katie Cotugno

99 Days by Katie Cotugno
Publication date: Apr. 21, 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Category: Young Adult - Contemporary
Source: Received from publisher via Edelweiss (Thanks!)
Summary: 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.  (greads.com)


The good
Katie Cotugno is, without a doubt, one of my favorite authors. In How To Love and again in her latest, 99 Days, her writing delves into real, flawed people in emotionally-charged situations that encourages readers to see things beyond the clear-cut black & white. Molly Barlow is back in her hometown, Star Lake, after running away from the vicious gossip and judgement surrounding her. One minute she was an extended member of the Donnelly family – dating the younger son Patrick, best friends with his sister Julia – the next, she's the town pariah for something that happened between her and the older son, Gabe. It turns her life, and those who were/are a part of it, upside down while providing their small town with an endless means of gossip. It's a book that unsettled me and opened my eyes and seriously had me unable to put it down until I reached the last page.

I know what most people would think when debating if they should pick up this book. A love triangle between brothers? How could she do something like that? It's a snap judgement I don't blame anyone for making. But Cotugno shows not only how or why this can happen but the double standard behind it. There are three people in this triangle: Molly, Patrick and Gabe. And believe me, they all play a role. They are all a mess. And no one single person is to blame. Each person has so much lying beneath the surface of what everyone thinks they know and I just really felt for Molly, who is at the center of the storm. Don't get me wrong, she makes a lot of decisions that I didn't agree with but she is dealing with the consequences. I was struck with so much sympathy for the animosity this young woman faced. It's just showed how easy it is to forget that we all make mistakes and to point fingers instead. She's really lost herself and through a series of flashbacks (and of course, moments happening in the present), we see how she got into the situation she's in with both Patrick and Gabe, both of whom have their good and then not-so-redeeming qualities.

But the book doesn't just focus on the romantic drama that's quickly unraveling. It's also about women, double standards, positive female friendships and what that even means. There's a side story with Molly's best friend and another girl she meets over the summer that I'm so glad was included because it's painfully raw. Her best friend provided a refreshingly honest perspective that Molly needed, even if she didn't always listen. Then Molly also has a complicated relationship with her mother and befriends another single mom in town at her summer job, who happens to inspire her professionally. And Julia Donnelly may seem like the mean girl in this story but she is yet another person who isn't who everyone thinks she is. See? There are so many multi-layered and different females in 99 Days and it's something that's not showcased nearly enough.

(No) Reservation
My only warning is that you be open-minded. It's a tough topic but one that Cotugno handles expertly.

Do I recommend?
Yes! I love her writing and how her words make me feel so much as I read. Check out both of her books, you won't regret it!

2 comments:

  1. You're so right about the focus on women and their relationships (not even just romantic). I noticed it a lot when I was reading but didn't touch on it in my review that much. I appreciated that they story felt so real and raw; first you could relate to some things.. then the next second you can't believe what she's doing. The story was SO intricate beyond the love triangle, which I completely appreciated. Great review!

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  2. Yes, yes, yes! 99 Days tackles such a difficult premise so damn well. Cotugno is just flawless at bringing honesty and thoughtfulness into situations that might turn people off initially, and I definitely appreciate that about both of her novels. I'm so glad that we wound up feeling the same way about this one!

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