The Windfall App by Teresa Richards

SKU 978-1-77339-725-2

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Marina Berghman is a classical piano prodigy, with parents who’ve had her life mapped out since she was in diapers. But their plan leaves no room for her secret love of alternative rock, or Sean, the edgy guitarist who recently moved to town. 

When Marina buys a lottery ticket on her eighteenth birthday via the new Windfall app, she expects it to be nothing more than a rite of passage. But she wins—the grand prize of five thousand dollars a day for life. Suddenly given the means to break free from a life she never felt in control of, she’s quick to cut her family ties and turn her back on everything she knows.

But her lottery win was no lucky break. Her prize comes with strings attached, and Marina soon finds herself at the center of someone else’s life or death game. When she discovers evidence linking her dad to the intrigue, she turns to Sean for help. But he’s harboring secrets of his own.

Now Marina must sort out who to trust and who’s pulling the strings, before her prize turns into a noose.

14+ due to adult situations



Marina, you won Windfall! You won the freaking lottery!” Darya was jumping up and down and soon I was too. We held hands and squealed like a couple of little girls. It was too crazy to believe. But the numbers didn’t lie and there they were, right on my ticket.

Darya gasped. “You have to sign it.” She dropped my hands and fumbled around in her purse. She produced a pen.

“I already signed it.”

The pen dangled from her fingers in the space between us. “You … already signed it?”

“Yeah. The instructions said to sign immediately so I signed right after I bought it.”

Darya grabbed the ticket from me and flipped it over, like she didn’t believe me. “Nobody follows those instructions, you know, people only sign if they’ve got a winner.”

I shrugged.

Darya squeezed my hand and squealed. “Ohmygosh, how are we going to celebrate? Should we go find some live music? Or, I know, let’s go to the Seward Street slides! Winning the lottery totally warrants trespassing.” She pulled me toward the banquet hall, where the silent auction was wrapping up. “Let’s go tell our friends. Jenna and Lexi are working the drink table.”

I planted my feet, jerking Darya to a stop. “No way, are you crazy? We can’t tell anyone, not even Jenna and Lexi. Word will spread. Everyone will want a piece of it and I need this money … for college.”

Darya clamped a hand over her mouth. “You’re right. I’m so sorry.” She mimed zipping her lips, but we both knew there was another reason I needed the money. Darya was the only one outside my family who knew I’d been on scholarship since the start of the year.

Darya’s eyes went wide. Very wide. She was the only person I knew who actually looked like one of those anime characters with the really big eyes. “We have to turn it in. You have to get a lawyer. My dad has a friend, I bet he’d be—”

“A lawyer?” a too-perky voice said from behind us.

Both our heads whipped around. Lana Perkins stood in the hallway with us. Stood there like she’d been born there.

How long had she been there?

Lana advanced toward us, her stilettoed steps looking smooth and practiced. Which, of course, they were. Swimwear models had to rock their heels. “My father is a lawyer,” she reminded us, gliding forward with the ease of a jungle cat. “He’d be happy to help you settle up.”

My throat tightened. She knows. She knows I won the lottery.

But did she know how much I’d won?

Wait, how much had I won? In Windfall, you win a set amount of money every day for the rest of your life. But was it a hundred dollars a day or a thousand? I couldn’t remember.

I tucked the ticket into my wristlet, arranging my features into what I hoped was a mask of indifference. “Yeah, I matched a few numbers, isn’t that great? I’ll keep your dad in mind if I need a lawyer.”

Lana’s eyes narrowed.

She wasn’t sure how much I’d won either.

She tossed her bottle-blonde hair over her shoulder. “Fantastic. I’ll tell him to expect your call.”

A microphone crackled to life inside the ballroom.

“I’d better go wrap things up for the auction,” Lana said. “Duties, and all.” She blew us an air kiss and glided away.

Darya and I headed back to our table, where we found our parents already seated. Ms. Cole, Valer’s dean, stood at the podium with Lana. In addition to being a model, Lana was also the senior class president. Brains not required, apparently.

Ms. Cole tapped on the microphone. “Attention parents, students, and patrons. I’d like to take this moment to thank you all for coming out tonight and for your generous support. Together, we raised nearly two hundred thousand dollars.”

Enthusiastic applause.

Ms. Cole continued. “This money will be put back into the school and will ensure that our classrooms, resources, and staff are all cutting edge, providing your children with the very best education. Thanks also to our talented student musicians who performed for us tonight, and for those who gave so selflessly to make this evening a success. Lana, do you have anything you’d like to add?”

Lana flipped her hair and took the mic. “As senior class president, I’d also like to say thanks. You know, for all the generosity shown here tonight. And for the fab donations and stuff. Now”—she leaned closer to the mic, gripping it with both hands—“before you all leave, I have a tidbit of news. One of our classmates has had a fortunate stroke of luck and I want you all to be the first to know.”

I sucked in a breath. No. She wouldn’t.

Lana lowered her voice, like she was sharing a secret of epic proportions. “Marina Berghman.”

I froze. The smile on my face froze. My blood froze.

Oh, yes she would.

“Marina, where are you?” Lana put a hand over her eyes to block out the spotlight and searched through faces.

“What a little tramp!” Darya muttered.

A-Ma gripped my arm. “Is she talking about Juilliard? Have you heard something and not told me?”

Of course A-Ma would think the news was about Juilliard. For her, the world revolved around me getting in. And I would. Probably. Hopefully.

When Lana’s eyes found mine, she smiled. Like the little flesh-eater she was. “Would you round out the amount raised tonight with a donation from your Windfall win? The lottery is, after all, a pot added to by the community. The best way to show your thanks is by giving back, am I right?”

Two seats down from me, my dad stiffened. His face drained of color. “You played Windfall?” he hissed. It was no secret that Dad thought the lottery was evil.

“Dad, it was no big deal. I just bought a ticket for my birthday.”

From the stage, Lana’s voice crackled through the microphone. “Is that a yes? I think that was a yes, people. Let’s have a round of applause for Marina, for winning the lottery. I’m sure we will all benefit from her good luck. A fortune that big is meant to be shared, am I right?”

I wanted to punch her stupid face and tell her she was not right.

The applause that followed Lana’s speech sounded bewildered at first. People weren’t sure what had just happened. Had Marina Berghman really won the lottery?

But as heads turned and eyes fell on me, the applause grew in strength. The room full of brilliant entrepreneurs, trust-fund recipients, and unlikely heiresses were realizing that the little Asian girl who played the piano now had money.

Which meant I suddenly mattered.

Product Reviews

Score: 5 out of 5 (based on 10 ratings)
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Written by Night Owl YA Reviews on 27th Sep 2018

"The Windfall App" is a YA book by Teresa Richards. The main character is Marina Berghman, a classical piano prodigy with parents who’ve had her life mapped out since she was in diapers. But when Marina turns eighteen and buys a lottery ticket via the Windfall App, and actually wins, she thinks that she’ll be able to break away from her old life and start a new one where she’s in control, but her so called prize comes with string attached… I absolutely love the cover for this book! It’s so quirky and cute! It’s one of the reasons why I actually clicked on the book and read the synopsis, and I’m glad I did. I actually had a fabulous time reading this book. The concept was somewhat original, and really captured my interest, and I had a blast while reading it. Marina was a very cool and interesting character. I found her very complex, and I liked that she had multiple layers to her. That’s what made her feel so read to me. She was just come cookie-cutter character, but she had depth to her. The other characters were all interesting and entertaining. The mystery itself was a real page-turner for me. Very intense and engaging. I actually read this book in one sitting because I couldn’t put it down. Everything just flowed and fit together well. Overall, this was a wonderful book. The characters were all well-developed, and the writing was amazing. And the book cover was just AWESOME. To be honest, I think this book had a bit of everything—a captivating mystery with a dash of drama, a pinch of romance and tiny bits of chaos and fun. It was utterly perfect.

Don’t pass this up
Written by Michelle Gosnell on 31st Aug 2018

This was such a fun read. There were a few times I thought I knew where things were going and yet there were some twists and turns I never guessed. I recommend this book to anyone looking for a quick escape from reality!

Written by Diamonde on 31st Aug 2018

The Windfall App is cleverly written. I really didn't know what to expect. The plot just kept on getting deeper. The characters were fun. It was delightful and painful to go into the mind of a teenager to see how they would react to actually winning the lottery. The expected trouble to follow and the unexpected makes this book an enjoyable read.

Fun Read!
Written by Vickie on 31st Aug 2018

I am writing this review on my wife's amazon account, because I don't have one. Sigh... Just finished Windfall App. I travel 2 to 3 times a month and read on my flights to keep from going crazy. I read all sorts of stuff, but my absolute requirement is that it keep me engaged throughout the flights. I read Windfall App on outbound legs of a cross country flight. Windfall App targets a YA audience, but I'm cool with that. I love Ender Wiggins books (O S Card), Harry Potter books (JKW), etc; in addition to my usual shoot 'em up Jack Reacher (Child) books; S King, D Koontz; and historical fiction such as Devil in the White City (E Larson). Windfall App had me engaged from start to finish. Lots of plot twists. Great characters that I cared about and rooted for. Heart warming ending and even some bullets, knives, and bad guys getting smacked with beer bottles. Fun read. I recommend it highly!

Mystery, love, danger, and money
Written by lilacquuen75 on 31st Jul 2018

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to win the lottery? Marina buys a ticket to celebrate her 18th birthday and ends up winning a lot of money and I enjoyed the way that Richards develops a cast of charming characters, an entertaining mystery, and a plot full of decisions, fun, greed, and love (not necessarily in that order). Marina is quirky and has her own style, but she's never felt truly free to fly her own course. Not until she has the money to do so and goes against her father's wishes of keeping it. I love her savvy, yet somewhat naive, character and I especially enjoyed her budding romance with the slightly mysterious guitarist from LA, Sean. He's full of adventure and fun, and really helps Marina find her true potential. I loved the setting of San Francisco and seeing it through the eyes of this bold young adult. I wish I really could have heard the impromptu jam session. The mystery really wrapped the whole story up in a satisfying package. I hope that Teresa Richards continues to venture in this genre. Content: mild language; mild violence; mild romance *I received a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are my own and were voluntarily given.*

WARNING - Winning the Lottery can be dangerous especially IF you turn in the winning ticket.
Written by Meagan @Blooming with Books on 31st Jul 2018

Marina Berghman is about to get the opportunity of a lifetime. Having celebrated her 18th birthday with the purchase of a lottery ticket (which would total upset her father if he found out, btw) Marina and her best friend Darya Cruz are eagerly awaiting the drawing not focusing on the silent auction school fundraiser going on around them. But when Marina 's ticket wins they are beside themselves even though they have no idea what she has won. But having the winning ticket isn't everything she thought it would be. First, her father is dead set against her claiming the prize - worse he's forbidden it. Well, Marina knows the money is needed for college and her father's business so her only choice is to go against her parents. After all, it's just money and she is totally convinced that her father is way overreacting. Okay, maybe some of his reasons are good but it's not like she is a gambler and this is going to set her on the path of ruin. It was just one lottery ticket. But when her father lays down the law Marina is so out of there - just one little problem she has no place to stay until her winnings are released. And that is just the start of her problems - with no one to turn to for advice she is basically on her own - and with a very small bank account and domestic skills not quite there she looking at some slim days for the next week plus. And all this while trying to juggle school and find a lawyer to help her understand all the legalese she has to sign. And she has friends galore crawling out the woodworks, bus seats, cafeteria tables - 99% of whom she's never even met before. What's a girl to do!! But one bright spot in this whole mess is Sean the really (I mean, really) nice guy she meets on the trolley. He seems to totally get her and she's more than happy to have another person at her side who doesn't seem interested in what her new-found fortune can do for them. But when things start to go really bad Marina isn't sure whom she can trust - and lives are at stake. Can she save the lives of those she cares about or will she totally blow it? This is a fun read that teens will love. Marina is given the chance to get out from under the pressures and expectations of her parents. But sometimes growing up and having to make the big decisions is a whole lot harder than it looks especially without any advice from the people who loved and shaped the first eighteen years. There is a touch of romance and a definite dose of mystery in this one. This also a journey of self-discovery and learning just what has value in one's life. News Flash sometimes the things your parents warn you against doing truly are with your best interests at heart but sometimes we need to go out and make the big mistake to realize that. I was provided a complimentary copy of this book with no expectation but my honest review - all opinions expressed are my own.

5 stars
Written by Amy on 27th Jul 2018

This is an absolutely charming page-turner--part mystery, part romance, part love letter to music. Lots of ethical dilemmas, a tour of San Francisco, a take-charge heroine figuring out her life, and a fun shopping spree. I adored every page--couldn't put it down!

5 stars
Written by Teresa Richards on 27th Jul 2018

I'm the author, so I'm a bit biased, but I really enjoyed writing this book. It combines some of my favorite things--music, family, and the city by the Bay. I hope you will enjoy being immersed in the city, the music, and the suspense. Will Marina get to keep her winnings and, if so, will she survive long enough to enjoy them?

4 stars
Written by Jodi Woody on 27th Jul 2018

The Windfall App was given to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. Even though I am over 50 I still enjoy some YA books. This one was pretty good. An interesting storyline about the lottery, greed, a bit of romance, and good friends. I give it four stars. I really liked it. No swearing, sexual content, or graphic violence. I can recommend for teens and up.

5 stars
Written by Rie Neal on 27th Jul 2018

I loved this book! Marina is a strong main character with a clear future planned out for her that she really doesn’t want. When she wins the lottery just after her 18th birthday, she realizes she now has the opportunity to break free from the plan, and she does. She goes on a spending spree—a luxury condo in SF and a new car. But bad things start happening to her, too, and she realizes it was a set-up. Her father has some powerful enemies, and they’re using her as a pawn in their life-or-death game. There are some great side characters in this book, too, that feel very real and add to the book. The anonymous texter adds intrigue, too. All in all, probably my favorite from this author so far. Can’t wait to see what she writes next!