5 September 2013

Book Review: The Life List by Lori Nelson Spielman

"Things to do when I grow up:

1. Have a baby

2. Fall in love

3. Perform live on a super-big stage

Brett Bohlinger seems to have it all: a plum job, a spacious loft and an irresistibly handsome boyfriend. That is, until her beloved moth
er 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 fourteen.

Grief-stricken, Brett cannot believe she can ever fulfil her mother's wishes, because to do so would mean losing her job, her apartment, and her boyfriend.

But 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."

Rating: 5/5

You can buy The Life List as a paperback or an eBook now.

This is one debut novel I didn't hear about until shortly before it was due to be released. I had seen it on another blog and it sounded like a great read, so when I was invited to be a part of the blog tour, I jumped at the chance. I hosted a lovely article by Lori Nelson Spielman, and at the time I was only halfway through the book. I took it on holiday with me and had to finish it straight away because I was so involved in the story. I have to compliment the publishers on the gorgeous cover too - I think it's really beautiful and somehow fits in well with the idea of the story too. I really loved this book, and here's why I think it's a must-read.

Brett is devastated when her mother passes away after an illness. She and her mother were very close, and Brett wonders how she is going cope without her rock guiding her through her life. When the will is read and Brett finds out all of her brothers have been given an inheritance and she hasn't, Brett is dumbfounded - why has her mother treated her so differently to her siblings? She soon finds out that her mother has set aside an inheritance, but it's on some strict conditions. Brett has to complete the 'life list' she wrote when she was just a teenager. It seems a strange request - some of the things aren't relevant anymore but Brett is sure there must be a method in her mother's madness. Brett decides she must do what her mother asks, and when she starts completing the tasks, she wonders how they can lead to a happier life for her after all....

This really was a brilliant book. The lead character of Brett Bohlinger is so likeable. Straight away, you sympathise with her as the book opens with Brett at the funeral of her mother and you can see how badly she is affected by her loss. She's bereft and her actions show that so well. When the idea of her teenage life list is introduced, I really liked how Brett dismissed it, sure she is a very different person from the teenager who wrote that list. As she begins to open her mind to the things she has to do, from putting on a stand-up comedy show to having children, something which seems impossible given the year time limit Brett's mother has put on her completing these tasks, you can see Brett change as a person, and I really enjoyed reading the relationship between Brett and her mother's attorney Brad develop as he helps her fulfill her tasks throughout the year.

What shocked me most of all about this book though was the emotion within. While the idea of Brett completing these life list tasks is the main theme, it is the way she goes about completing one of these tasks that really sticks with me and really moves me. There is a story in the book involving Brett and young pregnant girl Sanquita. This story shocked me with how much it struck me and made me think about mother-child relationships in a different way. I'm not ashamed to say that a few parts in this story drove me to tears, it was so emotional and full credit to Nelson Spielman for handling this story so sensitively. I also liked Brett trying to fulfill another of her tasks, connecting with her father. This, again, took some real twists and turns and I loved how it all turned out in the end. It was unexpected, in so many ways and for the whole book really but it worked so well.

At the heart of this book is a beautiful bond between a mother and daughter and this remains the most important thing throughout. Yes, Brett's mother is no longer with her in body, but you get the feeling she is with her in every other way and you can see how Brett draws strength from that. The book takes place over the year of Brett trying to complete her tasks, and I enjoyed reading her character grow and change as a person, accepting those things she cannot change and embracing the ones she could. The bond between Brett and her brothers too was interesting, especially showing how money and business can affect everyone, no matter how close they are. The book isn't at predictable, it twists and turns along the way - when you're sure you know where it's going, Nelson Spielman throws you in another direction, and I really enjoyed it. It's an emotional and very touching read that will certainly stay in your mind when you've finished it. There are some important lessons in this book, and I'm sure everyone who reads it can take something from it. A beautiful book that deserves to be read, shared and loved.


  1. I too have loved and continue to love this book!
    you expressed perfectly what I felt reading it!
    I agree with everything you said!
    Paola (@youarethebest70)

  2. I cannot not agree with you, Chloe! Such a wonderful book - loved it! x