on June 7th 2016
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Seventeen-year-old Maddie O'Neill Levine lives a charmed life, and is primed to spend the perfect pre-college summer with her best friends and young-at-heart socialite grandmother (also Maddie's closest confidante), tying up high school loose ends. Maddie's plans change the instant Gram announces that she is terminally ill and has booked the family on a secret "death with dignity" cruise ship so that she can leave the world in her own unconventional way - and give the O'Neill clan an unforgettable summer of dreams-come-true in the process.
Soon, Maddie is on the trip of a lifetime with her over-the-top family. As they travel the globe, Maddie bonds with other passengers and falls for Enzo, who is processing his own grief. But despite the laughter, headiness of first love, and excitement of glamorous destinations, Maddie knows she is on the brink of losing Gram. She struggles to find the strength to say good-bye in a whirlwind summer shaped by love, loss, and the power of forgiveness.
The Loose Ends List is one of those books that you will either love or hate and I am definitely on the love side. I knew from the moment I read the synopsis that this was going to be a book for me. While it had it’s flaws, I truly enjoyed Carrie Firestone’s debut novel.
- Story: It takes a lot to switch things up with contemporary novels. I admit that even though it is my favorite genre, I can really get bored with the books because they all seem to be very similar these days. The Loose Ends List really brings something new to the contemporary genre. I’ve read tons of books dealing with death in the family but nothing like this. Maddie’s grandma is a force to be reckoned with and she’s not gonna let cancer bring her down. She’s going out the way she wants to and that’s on a cruise with her family by her side. While it’s definitely a sad story, there are so many fun and happy moments to balance it out.
- Romance: I knew from the start that Maddie’s boyfriend wasn’t going to be the one she ended the summer with and I was glad for that. He was terrible and her reasons for being with him were terrible. Enzo, on the other hand, was good for her. They were going through similar situations and they both needed someone. Their relationship was sweet and fun and I loved watching Maddie cross things off her loose ends list with Enzo.
- Writing: I really liked Carrie Firestone’s writing style. The story never drags and a lot of that has to do with the writing. It’s not overly descriptive or wordy but it’s also not sparse in descriptions. I think it lends itself well to contemporary stories although I say that without having read any other kind of story from Carrie. It really helped keep my interest in the book even if I had issues with some other things.
- Humor: This is not just a sob story. There is so much humor woven into the story that it’s almost easy to forget that one of the main characters in the story is going to die. I loved how Carrie Firestone managed to balance the humor and the heartache. I never expected to laugh as much as I did throughout The Loose Ends List. That’s not to say I didn’t cry a ton too but it was pretty even. A lot of that had to do with Maddie’s grandma. She was a hoot. I loved her and I could see why Maddie did too.
- Characters: While most of the characters were awesome, I had some issues with a few. Take Maddie, for instance. She was so superficial. I was beyond annoyed with her attitude at the start of the book. She admits to dating a guy just because he’s popular and the captain of the lacrosse team. It’s like she’s always trying to prove herself to someone. I wanted her to grow up and start doing things just for herself. Her friends were the same way. It seemed like all they cared about were boys and parties. All except for Rachel, Maddie’s friend but not really. They grew apart because Maddie became popular and Rachel cared about comic books and things like that. What a lame reason to grow apart. Why can’t you do both? Yes, Maddie grows up a lot throughout the book but she really annoyed me for a lot of it, as did the people she chose to hang out with.
Overall, The Loose Ends List is a wonderful read that had me laughing, smiling, and crying quite a bit. I look forward to reading more from Carrie Firestone. Check this one out and don’t forget your tissues when you do pick it up.
What others are saying about The Loose Ends List:
- The Mind of a Book Dragon’s review: “Definitely keep an eye out for this read! It’s a great beach read.”
- You Can Read Me Anything’s review: “Worth reading…then re-reading when you start to take life (and people) for granted.”
- Book’s Buzz’s review: “I must say, the cover is the most stunning thing I’ve ever seen but what’s underneath is even more glamorous.”