"Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all."-Henry David Thoreau

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The List by Melanie Jacobson

Grade: A/5 stars
Rating: PG

Recommendation: Must read! This and it's companion novel Second Chances are both Whitney Award finalists!

This month it's my turn to host my local book club! And you guessed it, I picked my favorite book, The List by Melanie Jacobson.

If you've been following this blog at all, you know that my love of clean reading, and of LDS fiction in general, began with this book.  (If not, you can read my journey here) so I figured it was about time that I wrote a review on it.

Do the names Jack Weyland Richard Paul Evans sound familiar?  Well, they should. These are some of the authors I grew up reading and if you were an LDS teen growing up in the 19 ::cough cough:: then you probably grew up reading them too.

Let's talk LDS fiction for a minute.  LDS readers seem to have an opinion one way or another about LDS fiction. Many readers like it, but there are also a great many readers who when they hear the term "LDS fiction" put two hands over their ears and run in the opposite direction.  About a year ago, if you had asked me what I thought about it I would probably have told you... "Well, Um... it's cute and fluffy?"... You see, I was a member of the latter group (how shameful- I know).  But now I'm singing a different song and it all started with this book.

What it's about (borrowed from Goodreads):

Ashley Barrett doesn't want to get married. At least, not anytime soon. She doesn't care how many of her friends and family members and fellow churchgoers had weddings before they finished college -- the last thing she needs in her fun-loving twenties is the dead-weight of some guy. And that's why she created The List. By the time she completes all twenty-five goals -- from learning a language to skydiving to perfecting the art of making sushi -- she'll be more ready to settle down. Maybe.

This summer in California is a prime time for Ashley to cross two items off the list: learn to surf (#13) and have a summer romance (#17). And Matt Gibson, the best surf instructor in Huntington Beach and the most wanted guy in the singles ward, is the perfect man for the job. Ashley hatches a plan to love him and leave him before heading off to grad school in the fall (#4, get a master's degree). But when Matt decides he doesn't like the "leaving" part, Ashley's carefully laid plans are turned sideways. Now Ashley faces an unexpected dilemma: should she stick to the safety of The List, or risk everything for a love that may tie her down —- or might set her free?

What I liked:

From the very first sentence I was hooked and I stayed hooked until I finished the book. In full disclosure, I read it about three more times after that and then I bought a hard copy so I could loan it to others. From Ashley's snarky voice, to the twists and turns throughout the book... It was pure serendipity.   There are so many things about this book that I like.  Let's start with the main premise.  If you spent anytime in young women's then you at some point have  probably made a list... But most likely it was a list about what the qualities you want in a mate, what you want to be doing in 1 year/5years/10years or some other marriage related topic.  What I love about the premise is that it turns the list idea on its head and gives Ashley a list of things she wants to do before she will even consider the m-word. So clever!

Now the characters.  Ashley is everything an LDS Young Single adult cliche is not.  Really!  A mormon girl who doesn't want to marry?  That's like a walking contradiction isn't it?  Okay, to be fair, she does want to marry, just not until she completes the list. What a breath of fresh air.   And then there's Matt Gibson.  Just love him!  Matt's character is written so differently than most book boyfriends.  He's cool and suave and gosh.. He was just great.  Perfect.

And this book is funny.  The banter is quick, the comedy witty and the twists and turns? Well,  enough said.

What I didn't like:

Well, if there were things that I didn't like, then I probably couldn't give this the title of my "favorite book" now could I?

So were LDS books of the past predictable? Definitely.  A bit cheesy? Yep (not to say that I didn't love them).  But, thanks to authors like Melanie Jacobson those are things of the past.  I urge you to try this book out if it's been a while since you've read an LDS fiction book. Write on Ms. Jacobson, write on.

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