Book Review: 99 Days – Katie Cotugno

Title: 99 Days
Author: Katie Cotugno
Genre: YA – Fiction, Coming of Age

Synopsis:  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.

My Review:  
I listened to 99 Days as an audiobook downloaded impulsively from the library.  The cover of this book stuck out to me at first, and I don’t know, I kind of just went with it.  This review is going to be a little bit weird because I both disliked and really liked this book – which makes me not know how to rate it or how to phrase what I want to say exactly.
What I Loved:  The writing in this book is great.  I know this because I was so engrossed in the story and the characters that it was impossible for me to put it down.  Several occasions I wanted to, trust me, I wanted to.  I was so frustrated and annoyed and disappointed in the characters, Molly especially.  But. I. Just. Couldn’t.  So that means it’s a good book, right?
I actually did like some of the flashback scenes, and the relationship between Molly and Patrick before it went off track. Though it made the relationship seem a little one-sided in a way, Molly seemed to be what Patrick needed at a particularly hard time in his life.  They had a  relationship that was cut off from the rest of the world, and they were engrossed in each other.  This is sort of a reflection of my husband and I in those same tender teen years.  We were completely engrossed and entangled with each other for the first couple years of our relationship – and while the book kind of indicated that it is an unhealthy way to be – I do agree that if it continues for years and years it probably is; most of the time teenagers turn into adults who come out of hiding and return to the real world with responsibilities and start interacting with people again.  I know.  I lived it!
Not So Much:  Love Triangle.  …but that’s unfair, right, because reading the description of the book before downloading it to my phone I knew about the triangle.  So it’s really unfair of me to list that here.  
So moving on…Molly as a person bothered me.  She was so engrossed with both Gabe and Patrick, and somehow she had them both wrapped around her little finger (sort of).  Some of the major points of this book, ie: it takes two to tango, rings true of course.  However, to continue to do the same thing over and over and expect different results; that’s insanity.  And I’m over here trying to figure out how she’s going to do the right thing, how this book is going to smooth over all this emo-teen-love junk and an important lesson is learned.  It did, in its way…but I’m not sure I’m convinced that anyone has learned anything, if I’m honest.
Also – I felt like the turmoil in the relationship between Molly and her mother, who is an author and did a horrible, horrible thing when she wrote a book based on her daughters experience, and then ADMITTED to it in an interview.  How could her mother not see how that would make her daughter feel?  I mean, really??  But outside of that,  why did this relationship/sub-plot not really move?  There was a scene where I thought there was going to be a breakthrough moment – where either Molly was going to see the book that was written in a different light, or her mother was going to truly understand the depth of the stupidity of her actions.  Nope, there was a flipped coin (a reference to the book mother had written) and end scene…never to be referred to again.
The Verdict:  
This is why it’s so difficult.  The book overwhelmed me with emotions, just not all the ones I usually like to have when reading.  It wasn’t satisfying in the way that I like stories to be.  But is that a bad thing?  I mean, I admitted already that I wanted to put the book down and be done with it.  I couldn’t.  I couldn’t leave them up in the air like that because my brain would have busted my butt, I would have been utterly distracted until I gave in and finished the stupid book.  I can’t say that just because I was unsatisfied that this wasn’t a good book.
So this book has cussing and talk of sex (no actual scenes), so mature YA would be my stance on this one – I know some look out for this portion of my review, I didn’t want to leave you hanging!

About the Author:
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.


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