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.
Molly, our sole narrator, comes back to town. Slowly, the book unravels to reveal why exactly the town treats Molly like a pariah. Molly and Patrick were dating in the past and broke up. Gabe, Patrick's brother, was there to pick up the pieces and slept with Molly. It would had remained her secret for the rest of her life, if it weren't for her mother who wrote a bestselling book based on Molly's complicated and messed-up love life. So there is where the drama and disgust towards Molly begins.
The dramatic and overbearing love triangle of Molly, Patrick, and Gabe is the book's main plot and conflict. However, there are also some subplots. One is the vibrant and difficult relationship between Molly's mother and Molly herself. Another is Molly's own character development (which is perhaps the most important plot of them all). Each one is woven into the other, making the story much richer and layered. The plot may start slowly in the beginning, but it picks up speed once readers find out about Molly, Patrick, and Gabe's past.
Gabe and Patrick are brothers. They love the same girl. They never had a decent relationship (or friendship or brother-ship) with each other. Throw in Molly, and everything is a huge fight. Both of them are delightful characters in the first half of the book, but it is their slow and steady reveal of their true colors and their actions that draws me in.
The ending is abrupt and sudden. At first, it feels more of an unsettling ending, but the more I think about it, the more I realize how strong and tough the ending is. It is, to be short, a strange ending that leaves unsatisfied readers but also hints for a brand new beginning. The ending is beautiful.
Overall, 99 DAYS is a surprising story that subverts the old "love triangle" tale by giving the story a unexpected ending. I applaud the author for her bold choice. Molly herself is a strong character with glorious character development. Best for younger teens and up, 99 DAYS is a bold novel that goes out of its way to make a strong impression.
Rating: Four out of Five
Wow. I finished this book several days ago and I'm still thinking about it. I can't get over how real it felt to me. These characters, and the choices they make, felt like something I would encounter in my own life.
The thing that makes this novel stand out to me is how unlikeable the characters are. Molly is infuriating at times, repeating all of her mistakes when she returns to her hometown. Patrick and Gabe have darker instincts too and their sister Julia and her friends bully Molly.Their lives are so entwined that they can't see past each other and their combined drama. While I found them all to be unlikeable, I also felt they were understandable. The author excels at portraying the complicated messiness of first loves.
She also presents a harsh look at the consequences of making a huge mistake and the inequality of judgement when it comes to female/male situations. Molly takes the brunt of the bullying, with people calling her names and doing things like keying her car. Gabe gets by virtually unscathed. No one seems to blame him despite the fact that he made the same mistake as Molly did. This sad and unfair portrayal will hit home with a lot of readers.
What Left Me Wanting More:
The ending, despite all of the relationship devastation of the novel, is hopeful. I'd like to see more of the next stages of Molly's growth, since I don't feel that she did much growing during the course of the novel.
The Final Verdict:
Katie Cotugno has cemented herself amongst the best in realistic, contemporary YA fiction with this stark look at the messy consequences of our actions.
After reading How to Love, I needed to read another book by Katie Cotugno! I didn't find this book quite as beautiful as How to Love, but I still found this book very engaging!
Molly Barlow has one big regret that no one will ever let her forget. When her and her boyfriend, Patrick, got into a fight, Molly ended up sleeping with Patrick's brother. Molly kept the secret for years, until her mom publishes a book that is "based on her daughter's complicated relationship with two boys". People connect the dots and Molly runs off to a boarding school. Now, Molly is back for the summer, 99 days, until she goes off to college. Everyone still remembers her as a slut and she's more than happy to hide away in her room watching documentaries.But the summer has bigger plans for Molly.
This book focused on a controversial issue: Cheating. This is something that I really despise when someone does, so yes, this book was out of my comfort zone. This book, though, shows the reality of slut-shaming. Yeah, Molly made a stupid mistake and might've made things worse by not telling, but while she did all of this, she didn't fully deserve what happened to her. She is called a slut, her house egged, her car keyed, for this one mistaken. Yet, Gabe, Patrick's brother, who is as much to blame as Molly, has nothing happen to him. Molly herself doesn't realize this truth and believes she deserves all this and it takes all 99 of these days for her to realize that.
Though, Molly does have many flaws. I was enjoying this book, loving it, until Molly made stupid decisions again. She saw what happened last time and I just couldn't understand why, when she's finally repairing things, would she make that mistake again. I thought she learned her lesson, but it takes another mistake for her to finally reach a point where she changes, hopefully for the better.
The romance in this book is obviously complicated. It takes love triangles to the realistic level. This complicated relationship is the main focus of the story, but this book is not about the romance. In fact, I wouldn't call this a romance at all. Calling it a love story would be laughable. Now, my thoughts on the two boys are different. I actually liked Gabe, which surprised me. Patrick, on the other hand, was a jerk. I understand his anger towards Molly in the beginning, but his actions later on in the book were ridiculous.
Lastly, this book has sort of an open-ended ending. At first, this upset me, but now I think it works the best for the book. I think it ended wonderfully.
Overall, this book focuses on a very controversial subject from the viewpoint of a girl who still needs to learn from her mistakes. I actually enjoyed reading this book and despite Molly's unlikeable characteristic, I begin to root for her to find her way. I strongly suggest that everyone should read Katie Cotugno!