Book Review: Love, Life, and the List
By: Kasie West
Published By: HarperTeen
Publication Date: December 26, 2017
Page Count: 384
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher via Edelweiss
Young Adult - Contemporary
Kasie West is one of my go to authors when I am craving a contemporary romance. While I maintain it will be hard for her to top By Your Side (hello - it involves being stuck in a library for a weekend!), I did find that I enjoyed Abby and Cooper's story a lot. I also saw a bit of my teenage self reflected in Abby.
Abby is an artist who craves a chance to prove herself. She wants to attend a prestigious art camp, but needs to find a place to exhibit her art and make a sale in order to be considered. She hopes that her boss at the art museum will allow her to showcase her art at an upcoming show, but he informs her that while her paintings are good they lack depth and experience. Abby is crushed and isn't sure how to overcome this hurdle. After venting to her mom and grandfather, Abby decides to create a list that will help her experience more during her summer break.
In addition to pushing the boundaries of her experience and comfort zone, Abby's summer is abnormal because two of her best friends are away on trips. This leaves her and her best friend, Cooper, on their own together. Abby has some serious feelings for Cooper, but when you love your best friend, it can come with some serious complications. To make things worse, when Abby attempted to tell Cooper how she felt, he blew it off and figured she was joking. Abby tried not to let the rejection hurt too much, but no matter how hard she tries, she can't seem to shake Cooper from her heart and mind. Will she be able to watch him date other girls or will she have to move on from their friendship in order to repair her broken heart?
As the saying goes, the course of true love never runs smooth. Abby and Cooper will both learn a tremendous amount about themselves over the course of the summer. Each will be forced to evaluate their feelings, relationship, and future to determine if they will be friends, something more, or nothing at all. Along the way, both Abby and Cooper will find other people who pique their interest. I don't want to spoil anything, but I will admit that I while I understood how things ended up, I was hoping it might go a different direction.
In addition to the exploration of romantic relationships and friendships, there are also some intriguing family relationships in this one. Abby's grandfather lives with the family and he provides a voice of reason in many instances. I liked that he balanced Abby out when she got off course. In addition, Abby's mother who suffers from severe anxiety and her father who is deployed overseas add an interesting element to Abby's life. She desperately wants her parents to be present and supportive in every aspect of her life, but due to health and career, they are not always able to provide what she needs.
I love the concept of this novel. Part of me wants to borrow from Abby's list and start my own list for 2018 as part of my New Year's resolution. I think forcing one's self to experience life in a way beyond the norm is a healthy thing. It can open so many doors to new interests and friendships. Like Abby, I'm also hoping it will provide new inspiration for my career and creative endeavors.
Lastly, I'm excited to see what's in store for Abby in the future as this novel will be a companion to two other novels. All of them are standalones, but the characters will cross over. I know who I am rooting for to take over the spotlight, but we shall see which direction West decides to go.
One Last Gripe: I was disappointed in some of Abby and Cooper's choices.
Favorite Thing About This Book: I loved watching Abby grow. She fights for what she wants and learns to persevere - even when things seem improbable.
First Sentence: "Hot or cold?"
Favorite Character: Abby
Least Favorite Character: Cooper irked me from time to time.
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.
This is the first in a set of three standalone books with crossover characters.