Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Life List by Lori Nelson Spielman

IMG_1491_2Many adults are creating bucket lists -- those things they want to do before they die, but do you remember ever creating a "life list" when you were younger?  Perhaps you never wrote it down, but certainly at age 13 or 14 you could confidently tell others what you wanted to do with your life  I am sure your list was full of lofty aspirations - where you would go to school, where you'd travel and live, what kind of car you would drive and perhaps even whether you'd have children or not.  In your mind, I am sure you were going to be successful, perhaps even wealthy, and certainly you would be happy.  Next question, now that it is decades later, how much of that list have you accomplished?  Do those adolescent aspirations or goals even mean anything to you anymore?

Lori Nelson Spielman's novel The Life List examines those questions in a most unusual tale.  Cancer has just taken Brett Bohlinger's mother much too early.  Still deeply grieving, Brett knows she must pull herself together and assume the helm of her mother's successful cosmetic empire, but at the will reading Brett receives a shock she never expected.  The business will be managed by her sister-in-law and Brett herself will receive nothing until she completes a list of tasks left behind by her mother.  Actually, her mother did not write the list -- Brett wrote it herself at age 14.  On the crumpled piece of paper long ago discarded by Brett, but rescued and kept by her mother, there are 20 goals Brett set for herself those twenty years ago --
1.  Have a baby or two, 2. Teach others, 3. Get a dog, 4. Buy a horse, 5. Do charity work 6.  Make up with a certain childhood friend 7. Have a relationship with her father --- the list goes on and on, each goal more impossible than the others.  For starters, her boyfriend does not want children.  She gave up on the idea of teaching long ago (Her discipline skills are nonexistent).  And how do you establish a relationship with a man who is dead?  Talk to his grave?  But Brett has no choice, without a job and a home, she must attempt to make her way through the list.  As she does, surprises meet her at every step.

I enjoyed seeing how Brett is transformed by this list, becoming a better person, the person her mother knew she should be.  This is a fast, enjoyable read, and my only complaint is that it was too easy to see how the romance would go, even though there are several "red herrings" of interest.This book has been described as having "heart" and I definitely agree.  I am sure you will be cheering Brett on as she leaves Chicago's upper crust behind for a more caring life.  I enjoyed reading an interview with Lori N. Spielman found at the end of the book in which she shares that she, too, had a life list at age 14. A peak at her blog says that the book has been optioned by Fox for a movie. (Yeah)  Wonder what kind of story you could create from your old life list?  Like all good books, this one should have you thinking about your own choices, at least for a few minutes.

I obtained a copy of this book through our library system.  It's another recommended gentle read, despite some predictable parts.

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