Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Book Review: The Life List

By Melissa Amster

Just when you think you have your life all figured out, something comes along to disrupt it. At least, that is the case for Brett Bohlinger in Lori Nelson Spielman’s debut novel, The Life List.

Brett has a great job as an advertising executive, a gorgeous boyfriend and a posh apartment in Chicago. When her mother passes away, her whole world falls apart…especially when she is denied her inheritance unless she completes the rest of the items on her life list. That should be easy, except she created it when she was 14 and had different ideals for how she wanted to live her life. Soon she’s racing with the clock to become a teacher, buy a horse, have a relationship with her (dead) father and have a baby, amongst other things. Even with the help of her family and her mother’s lawyer, will Brett be able to finish her list in time to earn her inheritance? And what will she do with the truths she learns along the way?

I know there are other books about completing bucket lists (of sorts), but I thought Lori Nelson Spielman had a clever concept when she wrote this novel. It was a new twist on the theme and I like how she gave parameters and deadlines along with it. The contrast between Brett’s goals at 14 and at 34 was so vivid and I love that her mom had thoughts and reasons behind each goal she wanted her to complete. As Brett is working to complete each goal, there was a nice balance of build-up and let down, as the reader is made to think that she has it in the bag before something else gets in the way and throws her off course. As a result, the story is captivating and addictive. I just have to know how she’s going to complete each goal and end up taken for an adventure along the way. The story moves along nicely with strong characters and interesting dialogue.

There was a level of predictability to the story, as some things seemed to fit together a bit too neatly. The key from one goal would open the lock for another. However, Lori threw in a lot of twists and curveballs that made me second guess my predictions and still left me surprised at many points throughout the novel and even misty-eyed at times. While I thought Brett could be full of herself at times, I also liked how her vulnerability and flaws showed through. I was glad that others could talk her down from her high horse, when necessary. There was a sap factor, and some of the dialogue and narrative seemed like it was straight out of a Hallmark card. However, that didn’t keep me from enjoying the story as much as I did. The only other concern I had was that some of the dialects and language issues seemed overly stereotypical for certain characters. I don’t know if she based this off research or experience, but I think some of it could have been more subtle than it actually was.

Overall, I loved The Life List and still can’t stop thinking about it. I have been recommending it to friends and, of course, my mother. I’m glad I got the opportunity to read this novel and I hope it will one day inspire me to step out of my comfort zone a bit more. I hope it will do the same for others who read it, as well.

Thanks to Bantam Dell for the book in exchange for an honest review. We're having a giveaway along with Lori's visit to CLC.


Unknown said...

Great review Melissa! I'm going to read this book.

Lori Nelson said...

Thank you so much for the wonderful review, Melissa. (And thank you, too, Allie!)

Carole said...

Melissa, thanks for adding this to the library. Cheers

Elizabeth said...

I have seen this around a lot today while visiting blogs.

THANKS for your review.

Stopping by from Carole's Books You Loved July Edition. I am in the list as #75.

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