Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Life List by Lori Nelson Spielman

5 Star

1. Go to Paris
2. Perform live, on a super big stage
3. Have a baby, maybe two
4. Fall in love

Brett Bohlinger has forgotten all about the list of life goals she’d written as a na├»ve teenager. In fact, at thirty-four, Brett seems to have it all—a plum job at her family’s multimillion-dollar company and a spacious loft with her irresistibly handsome boyfriend. But when her beloved mother, Elizabeth, passes away, Brett’s world is turned upside down. Rather than simply naming her daughter the new CEO of Bohlinger Cosmetics, Elizabeth’s will comes with one big stipulation: Brett must fulfill the list of childhood dreams she made so long ago. Grief-stricken, Brett can barely make sense of her mother’s decision. Some of her old hopes seem impossible. How can she possibly have a relationship with a father who died seven years ago? Other dreams (Be an awesome teacher!) would require her to reinvent her entire future. For each goal attempted, her mother has left behind a bittersweet letter, offering words of wisdom, warmth, and—just when Brett needs it—tough love. As Brett struggles to complete her abandoned life list, one thing becomes clear: Sometimes life’s sweetest gifts can be found in the most unexpected places.

Lydia - 5 Star

I loved this novel! The Life List is easy to read yet has a heavier plot that will make you think long after you close the cover. A novel about being true to yourself, you’ll ponder what happened to your teenage hopes and dreams while reading Brett’s transformative journey in this refreshing, unique novel.

When Brett Bohlinger’s mother dies, her brothers inherit their portion of her fortune immediately. Brett, however, is left a stipulation. Per her mother’s wishes Brett must complete the life list she created as a fourteen year old girl. Why would anyone want to do what they thought they wanted to at fourteen, Brett thinks, and how will the love of her life, who refuses to have children, react when he tells her that’s part of her list? She balks at the thought of all the inane things on the list – buy a horse! - and flat out refuses. With some encouragement from old friends, and an unusual new one in her mother’s lawyer, she eventually reconsiders.

I adored the transformation of this woman as she grapples with her new reality and eventually attempts to tackles each task. How she comes out of her shell, sees just how much of life she is avoiding, and the manner in which she is prompted to take a hard look at herself is a rewarding and refreshing read. I equally adored how her mother thought of everything, and just how much she knows her daughter was marvelous. They family dynamics were interesting, particularly how her brothers try to protect her in different ways, as well as how different the three siblings are. 

The life lessons in this book will stick with me, probably forever. As someone who has just followed her thirteen-year old self’s dream, this book pushed me even further when I wasn’t sure there was much farther to go. But there is always room to grow as an individual. 

Push yourself. Don’t become complacent. Grow as a person. The lessons in this novel were marvelous. “Do something every day that scares you.” Brett’s mother says in a letter to her. This has crossed my mind several times in the weeks since finishing this book, and I find myself pushing my limits and boundaries, even if it’s nothing extraordinary like climbing Mt. Everest.

The Life List never struck me as predictable and just when it went one way, it veered in the other direction, which I found fabulous. Take this one to the beach with you this summer. You’ll be warmed by more than the sun with this fantastic, heart-warming novel.

Thank you to Bantam, Random House  for our review copy. All opinions are our own. 

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