When Molly comes back for the summer from a year at private school, she is still living the aftereffects from her life there before, when her mother wrote a best selling book about Molly’s conflicted love life.
Before, she was Patrick Donnelly’s girlfriend but when he broke up with her in a huge, never-before-seen fight, she is consoled by Gabe, Patrick’s older brother, who acknowledges he’s always loved her. Molly and Gabe keep their night together a secret, even when Molly and Patrick get back together…until Molly’s mom’s bestseller that outs it to everyone. Suddenly, the Donnelly boys are getting into fights and Julia Donnelly, Molly’s one-time friend, blames her, along with the rest of the town who call her names and bully her. Unable to live with that kind of hatred, Molly runs away to private school, not even bothering to tell her best friend.
Now, she’s back for 99 days. 99 days until college, and day 1 has already seen Julia Donnelly egging her house. Her former best friend Imogen has a new best friend, Tess, and she just happens to be Patrick Donnelly’s girlfriend. Gabe Donnelly is the only one happy to see her, begging her to come hang out with him. After trying this once or twice, Molly knows that everyone still remembers, and she finds solace in spending all day binging Netflix documentaries and snacking in her pjs. The one way out of being a bum all summer is to get a job. Molly finds her way to a lodge she worked at before, now renovated and under new management. Molly is the new owner’s assistant and uncomfortably runs into Julia’s catty friends and Tess. Though Molly is resolved to lie low, Gabe has other ideas. Patrick is said to be away for the summer, his surprise appearance throws Molly and the Donnelly’s into chaos once more. This time, however, Molly knows she must find a way to patch things up, even if it turns out to be ugly, painful, and hard. The only thing she hadn’t counted on was how much she and they can’t help repeating the past…
Katie Cotugno writes some raw and identifiable characters, and 99 Days is no exception. Molly is easy to relate to and while it takes a bit to understand her, you’re sympathetic to her problems. Molly was so confused before she left that this summer she’s trying to think through her actions and make different choices. She knows her friendships suffered and tries to be a good friend, but the social double standard for females and insensitivity of the Donnellys weigh her down. Everyone shuns Molly for her actions with Gabe, but Gabe himself is still a golden boy, and he is decent enough to acknowledge this fact. He even tries to protect her and pull her into a healthier circle of friends who will accept her. Patrick, on the other hand, is still competing with his pride, his jealousy, and his wounded heart. He still sort of thinks of Molly as only his, simply because they were together and best friends, despite the fact that his two siblings were too. Molly herself thinks of the Donnellys as almost like an extension of her family, while Patrick seems to be more territorial, Molly as a thing to be owned not embraced. The journey to self-acceptance and taking responsibility for her actions isn’t easy, but genuinely honest, despite the mistakes she makes on the way. The story is romantic, truthful, and real. Even the love triangle is forgivable and plausible. A perfect summer or fall read that readers will devour quickly.
One last thing, I loved the creativity of this cover and endsheets! Beautiful!