Published by HarperTeen on December 26th 2017
Source: Publisher, Edelweiss
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
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What do you do when you’ve fallen for your best friend? Funny and romantic, this effervescent story about family, friendship, and finding yourself is perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen and Jenny Han.
Seventeen-year-old Abby Turner’s summer isn’t going the way she’d planned. She has a not-so-secret but definitely unrequited crush on her best friend, Cooper. She hasn’t been able to manage her mother’s growing issues with anxiety. And now she’s been rejected from an art show because her work “has no heart.” So when she gets another opportunity to show her paintings, Abby isn’t going to take any chances.
Which is where the list comes in.
Abby gives herself one month to do ten things, ranging from face a fear (#3) to learn a stranger’s story (#5) to fall in love (#8). She knows that if she can complete the list, she’ll become the kind of artist she’s always dreamed of being.
But as the deadline approaches, Abby realizes that getting through the list isn’t as straightforward as it seems... and that maybe—just maybe—she can’t change her art if she isn’t first willing to change herself.
I enjoy reading Kasie West’s contemporary YA novels but I do have to admit that her last two have not been stellar. I was excited, yet skeptical about Love, Life, and the List and it was a little better than I expected. Here are the things that I loved about the book and some things that I didn’t like so much.
- I loved the family elements in this book. I enjoyed that the main character’s family members were featured throughout the book and that we got to know them. I loved the role that her grandfather played in her life and how well they got along.
- This book tries to explore mental health. Abby, our main character’s, mother is dealing with agoraphobia that she has not sought professional help for and this was an enduring aspect of the plot. I did, however, have some problems with this that I will go into more detail in my dislike’s list.
- I like the friendship aspects in the book and how well Abby got along with all her friends. She also went about making new friends and that was really great to see. I loved that there weren’t any friendship breakdowns, which can be common in contemporary YA.
- I really enjoyed that Abby is an artist and that art was a big theme in the novel. Abby is a painter and there are other characters in the book who are sculptors and actors.
- I thought the writing in this book was strong… at least compared to some of Kasie West’s recent novels. The writing didn’t frustrate me and I found it to be quick and easy to read.
- Despite liking the writing, I did not really like Abby’s voice in the novel. I found it hard to really connect with her and thought that she was a little bit shallow. Because of this, I don’t think that some of the mental health and family themes were explored as well as they could have been.
- I wasn’t a big fan of Abby’s character. I liked that she was driven and passionate about her art but beyond that, I thought she was self-centred and a bit annoying at times. She made everything about herself, especially by ignoring the fact that her mother needed help. There was also one scene where she yelled at her mother, saying that she needed help, but then immediately turning around and acting like it wasn’t her problem. I just really did not enjoy that.
- I was not a fan of the romance in this novel. Abby has an unrequited crush on her best friend Cooper, and I really didn’t enjoy her actions when it came to Cooper. She essentially throws a tantrum every time he doesn’t put her first and shoves him away every time he doesn’t return her feelings. If I’m not mistaken, people you like are allowed to not like you back?
- There wasn’t as much character development as I would’ve liked. I thought Abby’s character fell flat and she didn’t really have any dimension besides being an artist and the girl who liked Cooper.
- Following from the previous point, I would’ve liked a bit more on focus on the list and how each new experience Abby ticked off helped change her as an artist and a character. Considering that the list is mentioned in the title and kind of supposed to be a big part of the novel, I wanted a bit more from it.
Overall, this was a much better novel from Kasie West than her last one, Lucky in Love. There were some really great themes of family, friendship and mental health. I was a little bit disappointed with the characterisation of the main character and the romance in the book, but I was pleasantly surprised by the whole book in general.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Thanks to HarperTeen for providing a review copy of the book.