Love, Life, and the List
By: Kasie West
Published: December 26th 2017 by HarperTeen
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss (Thank you!!)
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Goodreads description--Everyone knows Abby Turner is in love with her best friend, Cooper Wells. Including Cooper Wells. But despite what people tell her, it doesn’t affect their friendship. And she’s practically over it, anyway. What she really can’t get over is when her boss at the local museum tells her that her paintings lack heart.
Art is Abby’s passion and she hopes her future as well. She is determined to change his mind and earn her way into the upcoming exhibit at the gallery. So along with her family’s help, she compiles “The Heart List,” a series of soulstretching experiences that are sure to make her a deeper person and better artist in six weeks or less. When Cooper decides to complete the list along with her, she realizes this list is expanding her heart in more ways than one. Maybe she needs to start another project.
Love, Life, and the List is about a girl who, in an effort to bring more emotional depth to her art, compiles a list of soul-stretching experiences to complete with her best friend—a boy she also happens to be in love with.
This is the first in a set of three standalone books with crossover characters.
I seriously think the description could be narrowed down to that last paragraph and you'd know everything you need to know. The rest of it pretty much gives everything away.
Ok so I'm an avid Kasie West fan, right? I've read all of her published books but one (I believe). I went and checked and the lowest rating I've given to a Kasie West book is 4 Stars. That means she's consistently written really good books for me. I've said in almost all of my reviews of her books that I like how she always keeps her books clean, and I know to expect characters I can connect to even if her plots aren't always original. Well it had to happen eventually, but I felt a little disappointed with Love, Life, and the List. It's not that the book wasn't good or enjoyable, but it would easily qualify as my least favorite Kasie West book. And I'll tell you why.
The majority of this book is about unrequited love. And while that's something that I can definitely relate to, I'd rather read about two characters in the process of falling in love. I mean I'm pretty sure we've all had crushes or even serious feelings for someone who didn't return those feelings. I personally had a huge crush on this guy who flirted with me for YEARS in high school. And when I finally worked up the courage to tell him (over email), he never responded. It didn't stop him from continuing to flirt with me in person though. I've also been on the other side of that coin. I've had guys confess feelings for me that I didn't return as well. And from my experience on both of these sides, I personally don't feel like you can go back to being just friends in most cases--especially depending upon the depth of feelings. Those feelings don't tend to disappear. They end up festering, and it can make moving on almost impossible. And again, I say that from both points of view. So...while I empathized with Abby's predicament, I felt like her attempts to continue a friendship with someone she's in love with was not helping her out at all.
At the same time, the curiosity about whether Cooper might eventually return Abby's feelings or if Abby would move on to another guy kept me intrigued and wanting to read. Of course, at a certain point you realize that the author has spent the majority of the book headed in one direction that to change course wouldn't leave a satisfying ending. I will say that even though Love, Life, and the List had a "happy ending", I wouldn't exactly say that I was satisfied with how things went.
I will say that the rest of the aspects of Love, Life, and the List were spot on. I enjoyed Abby's journey to gain emotional depth. I absolutely loved her grandfather. Abby's mom's struggle with agoraphobia was unique. I've not read any other books that touch on this subject (at the time of writing this review...ironically enough the very next month after reading this book I read another one that touched on agoraphobia as well). And I appreciated Kasie West's decision to have some "major" characters from Abby's life present in that they exist, but not present in that they don't take up too much of the story. Specifically two of her best friends who were traveling for the summer vacation as well as her father who is in the military and stationed elsewhere.
Despite my frustrations with the romantic relationship, I did actually shed a few tears while reading this book. Abby experiences one big situation where pretty much everyone in her life lets her down at the same time. My heart broke for her and I felt her anger, hurt, and frustration in each of those situations.
-"Nobody else's opinions about your art are going to matter to you until yours does."
-"What have you learned?" he asked. "That we can only control ourselves. No matter how much we wish we could twist and bend someone's will to ours, they have to want it too."
Love, Life, and the List will unfortunately fall into the category of "my least favorite Kasie West book." That being said, I still enjoyed this book to the point where it did make me cry. I'm sure a large portion of that was pregnancy hormones, but hey, that counts. While I enjoyed all of the other relationships that Abby had, I felt that her relationship with Cooper fell flat through the majority of the book and then wrapped up a bit too easily in the end for me. Love, Life, and the List gets 3.5 Stars from me. Have you read Love, Life and the List? What did you think? Let me know!