99 Days by Katie Cotugno
Published: April 21, 2015 by HarperTeen
Source: From the publisher
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. [goodreads]
Every so often I'll come across a book that delves into a subject matter that's hard to stomach. 99 Days by Katie Cotugno reached that place deep within me, causing me to stop and reflect, contemplating if I could keep reading, yet not being able to resist the pull from page to page. Cheating is such a tough subject to read about in books for me. Automatically my mind wants to scream: wrong! wrong! wrong! And not give the accused a moment to state their case. Yet this particular novel forced me to listen, really hear what the other side had to say. And my, what an incredible, thought provoking story did it have to tell.
Molly Barlow is hated by so many in the small town of Star Lake. She did the unthinkable by cheating on her devoted boyfriend, breaking apart an already crippled family. From the outside all signs are pointing toward negativity when it comes to Molly's actions. Even she couldn't handle the truth and skipped town as soon as she could. But now she's back, to face the music, for just 99 days, until she's able to escape the hell she's brought on herself for good.
The character of Molly was a complicated one that took awhile to present herself. She is guarded and hurting. As the reader, I found it intriguing that I wanted to know why she was hurting so much. Even though I knew her actions were wrong, I still found myself wanting to discover the reasons behind her story. What led to these events? How can she put it behind her and truly move on? I knew being involved with Gabe, the catalyst that ultimately separated Molly and Patrick, was a very bad move to make. Yet I continued to follow her path, seeking answers, only to discover even more questions.
There are moments in this story that left me hurting, right along side Molly. When literature has the power to provide empathy for a character who's actions should be unforgivable, you realize there's something much deeper here than just a book offering up an entertaining story. I appreciate the honesty in Katie Cotugno's writing, no matter how unlikable the subject matter may be. The power that propels this story is one I was not expecting. There is healing in these words, whispering, almost shouting in parts, to be heard. For readers who are on the fence when it comes to difficult subject matters such as this one, I highly encourage you to give this one a try. The beauty in this story will surprise you. The authenticity in its bravery will coax out a wanting to keep reading, until you reach that final page.