Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Life List

The Life List
by Lori Nelson Spielman

Genre: Woman's Fiction

Synopsis:  Brett Bohlinger seems to have it all: a plum job, a spacious loft, an irresistibly handsome boyfriend.  All in all, a charmed life.  That is until her beloved mother passes away, leaving behind a will with one big stipulation: In order to receive her inheritance, Brett must first complete the life list of goals she'd written when she was a native girl of fourteen.  Grief-stricken, Brett can barely make sense of her mother's decision-her childhood dreams don't resemble her ambitions at age thirty-four in the slightest.  Some seem impossible  How can she possibly have a relationship with a father who died seven years ago?  Other goals (be an awesome teacher!) would require her to reinvent her entire future.  As Brett reluctantly embarks on a perplexing journey in search of her adolescent dreams, one thing becomes clear.  Sometimes life's sweetest gifts can be found in the most unexpected places.
From the back of the book

Becky's Review:  Simply put, I loved this book!  The author has an amazing ability to invoke emotions in readers.  Within the first few pages I was tearing up as I felt Brett's emotions after her mother died and I teared up at another point as well.  There are so many unexpected events in this book and I loved reading about how Brett met her goals in unexpected ways.  The one complaint I had was that Andrew, Brett's boyfriend at the beginning, was clearly not a good guy nor in it for Brett but Brett couldn't see that.  It irritated me how she stuck with him for so long (I really don't like unlikable characters!)  Luckily Brett moves on and discovers so many things about herself and the world around her while she tries to meet the goals on her list.  I love that by the end of the book she is no longer meeting the goals to get her inheritance, she is meeting the goals for herself to make her happier.  This was a really great read!

Marcie's Review:  I really enjoyed reading this book - I read it in two days and did NOT want to put it down.  When I started it, I was concerned that it was going to be too light, too superficial, too chick-lit-y.  There were lots of references to fancy product brands (I hate that) and the main character acted pretty immature (I thought she was in her early 20s instead of 34).  But as the book continued, Brett changed and matured, and I found myself crying along with her, rooting for her to find herself, and hoping that she would have her happy ending.  The author does a lovely job portraying Brett realistically, foibles and all, making her seem like the kind of girl I'd want to be friends with.  Spielman has a knack for creating conversations that are both poignant and funny.

So, why didn't I give it 5 stars?  Well, I reserve my 5 star ratings for books that are so fantastically wonderful that I would recommend them to absolutely everyone, and this was just a tad bit light and romance-y.  Plus, I thought Brett's change from heiress to philanthropist happened too quickly, and she had moments of being too preachy and nonmaterialistic to seem real.  And why on earth did she ever put up with her first boyfriend for so long?  If she's as smart as she thinks she is (about to become CEO of a major company), you think she'd be smart enough to realize he's a terrible person.

My library had this book categorized as romance, but I think it is so much more than that.  Is it a great work of literature?  Definitely not!  But is it enjoyable and also thought-provoking?  Yes, for sure.

Becky's Rating: 5 stars

Marcie's Rating: 4.5 stars

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