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.
I am not proud to admit that Carrie Firestone made me cry. This book made me crawl into my bed and make myself into a ball and sob like the wreck I am, because this is such a beautiful book and there is just so much to say about it and even now, after I have calmed down and taken a break I feel a sense of heartbreak when I think of this book.
Now let me completely contradict myself, because I'm about to tell you that The Loose Ends List is a really fun read - and it actually is - there are some really funny, cute bits. Of course, this is a book about a load of ill people and their families coming to terms with the fact that soon they are going to die. Obviously it's sad, but this makes for some really beautiful, hopeful scenes as well. This book is just the perfect mix of happy, sad, hopeful and perfect. It was just this mix of emotions which is why it's going to stay with me for a long time.
To start with, I wasn't the biggest fan of Maddie. She seemed selfish and sarcastic and I didn't like it. This passed pretty quickly. I loved the whole cast of characters, from Maddie's family to Paige, a friend she makes on the ship and all of the other passengers. I loved Enzo, perfect sweet Enzo the most.
I really loved the places they went to and the things that they did, but nothing trumps the way this book made me feel. All of the characters come together to create this amazing group of people getting through this heartbreaking journey and learning things about themselves whilst they do it. I don't know if this was meant to be the main focus but for me it was, everything else - the romance, the family - they all took a back seat to the bigger message.
I'm going to stop now, because I can't trust myself to write a well worded review on this book - it blew me away that much.
I'll leave it at three words which I hope you will all listen to: read this book.
Overall Rating: A+
Book released June 16th 2016 by Hachette Children's Group
Book received from the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review