Author: Maddie Dawson
Book Name: The Life List
Blurb: One woman sets out to complete her old list of childhood goals, and finds that her lifelong dreams lead her down a path she never expects.
1. Go to Paris
2. Have a baby, maybe two
3. Fall in love
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 naïve 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.
Review: When a book starts you out near tears within the first couple of pages , it is easy to assume that this is going to be a good one. This definitely ends up being a roller coaster ride, but only because there are times that all the pieces just don’t seem to work together at all. The peaks and valleys of that roller coaster define the good and the not so great parts in this book.
My first issue is with Brett. She is 34 but most times her maturity level comes across as barely adult. She is self centered in so many cases and tends to feel more desperate than genuine. Every single potential romantic interest seems to be all about how the guy looks and she quickly jumps from one to the other without much depth to support the her interest. She is really flaky.
I was also hugely confused by the whole will and list demands. As a parent, you want the best for your children, but you would never force them to suffer. Not only does the mother force Brett to jump through all these hoops but does so along with taking away her job and not giving her any real kind of support, like even letting her stay in her house until she can find some solid footing.
The demand to have a child and find true love with a time limit on those demands, while interesting in a general romanticized sense, is more likely to force someone to make decisions for the wrong reasons only to seriously regret them later. Yeah, this is a book, but come on!
Another big confusion factor in the will is why the brothers get a free pass. It is obvious based on some of the BS that gets spewed from them that they are just as far from perfect as Brett is, but they get their millions delivered in Waterford crystal, yet Brett has her entire life upended. Again, it makes so little sense that it is hard to sink into the concept.
The lack of real reaction or trauma that occurs after it is discovered that the mom had an affair also doesn’t quite ring true. The brothers have zero reaction and Brett is all “Yup, that makes sense. The guy that raised me didn’t treat me like a princess so he is a jerk that means nothing to me”. Yes, the guy was so not a good father, but to just drop that relationship with zero real emotional baggage and welcome real dad with complete open arms is hard to believe.
Also wasn’t a fan that you have all this build up with the letters and the inheritance and, in the end, the reader never sees the final letter or learns what the actual inheritance is. It leaves you feeling like you missed a piece of the story. The version of the book I read did end up having that last letter in some Q&A in the back of the book, but having to read it out of the context of the story loses all emotional impact.
There are absolutely some great parts to this book. Parts that had me in tears and really feeling for Brett. Others, like the ones above, negate the emotional momentum that those parts generate. I’d even go so far as to say that the not so great parts made me really dislike Brett’s character by the time I got to the end of the story.