The Life List
by Lori Nelson Spielman
Published by Bantom
Genre: chick lit, literature
Thanks to edelweiss for the preview
5 / 5
I have mother issues. I’ll admit that straight away. I don’t know if it’s because I’m adopted or if my mother was not all that fabulous or what, but I have mother issues. When I read books with good mothers in them (and I’m looking at you, Mrs. March), I get wistful and flat out jealous. I wish I’d had a good mom. I wish I could be a good mom.
So as I read this book, I found myself wondering how you get to be the sort of mother who just knows what your child needs, who knows what your child is thinking before the child is even aware of what’s going through her mind. Gosh, do I wish I had a mother like that. And gosh, do I ever wish I could be that mother.
When Brett’s mother dies, she is bereft with grief. And then she becomes confused and a bit angry, because Mom’s cosmetics empire is not left to Brett, but rather her imperious sister-in-law. Everything else apparently goes to Brett’s brothers, and all Brett is left with is a list. Not just any list, but a to-do list that Brett created when she was a girl. Mom refuses to leave any inheritance to Brett until she completes the to-do list, and she has one year to get it done.
Brett is stunned. One of the things on the list is to buy a horse. Another is to have a relationship with her father, and that one is particularly problematic because dear old Dad is dead. Fall in love? Brett thinks she has that one, thanks to her boyfriend Andrew. Have a baby? Does Andrew want kids?
There are ten things in all that Brett must do, and of course as she completes her tasks, she receives the greatest inheritance her mother could leave: Brett becomes the person her mother knew she could be. Along the way, much of what Brett thinks she knows is proven wrong, just as you’d expect would happen.
This is written so clearly and enjoyably that you can’t help but get hooked on Brett’s story. We see some of the solutions to her task before she does, much like her mother could do. But we also find ourselves in Brett’s shoes, thinking we know how something will turn out, only to have life zig when we expect a zag. Brett is not perfect; there are times she is agonizingly blind or nearly insufferable with self-righteousness. But she’s so darn likable that she invests you fully and completely in her story. At one point, I found myself crying, and I wasn’t even sure why. I just wanted her to find love, and every time it seemed as if she had, circumstances would change. I don’t just mean romantic love, either. Her relationship with one of her older brothers is prickly at best, and then there is that whole dad thing.
You may find yourself thinking about the you you wanted to become when you were fourteen. Are you that person? Would you want to be? And if you aren’t, what’s stopping you?