Publisher: Balzer & Bray.
Hardcover, 384 pages.
Release date: April 21st 2015.
Rating: 4½ out of 5.
Source: Received from publisher for review.
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.
So, you’ve just confessed your deepest, darkest, most disastrous secret to your mom. What happens next?
A – Your mom listens, puts a comforting arm around you and tells you that things are not as bad as they seem and everything will work out in the end.
B- Your mom listens (intently, while taking notes), gives you a quick pat on the back, and then runs off to write a bestseller based on your life and all the very bad things you just did with a very hot boy.
If you answered B, and you were subsequently run out of town on publication of said book, then, are you sure your name isn’t Molly Barlow?
Okay, Okay. So, Molly wasn’t physically run out of town or anything like that, but she’s pretty much public enemy number one in Star Lake these days, and let’s just say the girl needed a year away at a far off boarding school after all her secrets were splashed across the pages of People magazine. (Gee, thanks mom!) What did Molly do? Well, she only cheated on her long-term boyfriend with (of all people) his hotter older brother. Ouch! Now, there is more to the story, but if you were looking for the short version, well, there it is.
Molly messed up bad, and she’s got plenty of enemies to prove it. Now she’s got ninety-nine days before college starts, ninety-nine days in which to keep her head down and have a quiet summer with no drama, right? Thankfully, Patrick, her former boyfriend is away for the summer, so at least she won’t have to deal with him. His brother Gabe, though, he’s around. Molly’s hot hook-up is back in town. And what you’ll soon learn about Molly is that she’s not a girl who learns from her mistakes. Not at all. In fact, she’s a girl who makes the same mistake over and over again. Molly’s favourite mistake is Gabe – and the two are soon hooking up in secret. Ah, an illicit summer romance with your ex’s older brother. What could go wrong? Oh, maybe Patrick arrives back in town. Ha!
Suddenly, Molly’s life just got a whole lot more complicated. She’s hot for Gabe, but maybe she still wants Patrick too. Let’s add Patrick’s new girlfriend into the mix. Maybe that makes Molly want him even more -even though she's fast becoming friends with Patrick's new girlfriend. And that, my friends, is a recipe for total and utter disaster.
I shouldn’t have liked Molly, but I did. Molly worked for me. She reads very real. Yes, she has messed up. But, there’s more to Molly and Gabe than first meets the eye; and her relationship with Patrick was never all plain sailing either. Also, complicated sibling rivalry to the max between these two. Who gets the girl? I ask you, would you really want to be a part of that mess? No, you wouldn’t. But Molly is right in the middle of it. Sometimes, while reading about Molly's car-crash life, I wished Molly could take a minute to survey the mess unfolding right in front of her, and make a good decision for once. Didn't happen.
I was sympathetic towards Molly, though, mainly because she takes the brunt of the blame for the cheating incident, whereas Gabe gets off scot-free - a double standard he acknowledges as being completely ridiculous. This is Cotugno’s trump card. It works, because it’s true. How many times have you heard a girl labelled a slut for cheating? How many times have you heard the same said of a guy? Right. Well played, Cotugno.
There is a lot to love about this story; Cotugno’s style is highly engaging, while the ninety-nine days format of the book makes it a true page-flipper. It’s also a perfect summer read – so, add it to those summer readings lists! –with hot hook-up’s a-plenty, road trips, camping, music festivals and fun girls nights out. 99 Days ends on a hopeful, if not a happy ever after note, and I am hopeful that after all she went through, and all the people she hurt, that Molly will finally learn from her mistakes. Well, I’ll keep my fingers crossed for her anyways – but I won’t hold my breath.
p.s: You might just hate Molly – she is a little blasé about the whole cheating thing at times….
Read 99 Days if you loved: Sometimes it Happens by Lauren Barnholdt and Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson.