It’s a summer for first love, last wishes, and letting go.
Maddie has big plans to spend the last months before college tying up high school “loose ends” alongside her best friends.
Then her beloved grandmother drops two bombshells: (1) Gram is dying. (2) She’s taking her entire family on a round-the-world cruise of dreams come true—but at the end, Gram won’t be returning home.
With a promise to live in the now without regrets, Maddie boards the Wishwell determined to make every moment count.
She finds new friends in her fellow Wishwellians, takes advantage of the trip’s many luxuries, gets even closer to her quirky family, and falls for painfully gorgeous Enzo. But despite the copious laughter, headiness of first love, and wonder of the glamorous destinations, Maddie knows she is on the brink of losing Gram, and she struggles to find the strength to let go in a whirlwind summer shaped by love, grief, and laughter.
Hardcover, 346 pages
Published June 7th 2016 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Four stars: A lovely book that explores life and death.
Maddie has big plans for her summer. She intends to live it up with her friends before heading to college, that is until she gets a call from her grandma. Maddie learns her beloved Gram is dying of pancreatic cancer, but her unconventional Grandma isn't going to go out in a hospital. Her Gram is going to take the family on a round-the-world cruise, from which she won't return. Maddie quickly learns the cruise isn't an ordinary cruise. The Wishwell cruise is a for those who are terminally ill. On the Wishwell ship, the patients live out their final wishes, and then they have the luxury of euthanasia. As Maddie clings to the final days she has with her Gram, she finds new friends, new loves, and learns to grab on and live life to the fullest.
What I liked:
- The Loose Ends List is a book with so much to like. It is about life and death, growth and change, heartbreak, and most of all, grabbing onto life and living it to its fullest. I loved the heartfelt messages of this little book, and I recommend it strongly.
- Maddie, the main character, is one who takes some time to like. At first, she comes across as a shallow teenager. As she spends time on the Wishwell, she opens her eyes. I loved watching her grow and change, especially through the friendships she makes on the ship. By the end, she has transformed into another girl, one who I think will live her life to its fullest.
- This book features a large cast of eclectic characters, some are far more likable than others, and even though some of them bothered me, I liked that they were all flawed. Some of my favorites were Paige, Maddie's Uncle Wes, Heinz, and of course, Maddie's Gram. In fact, the grandma was the highlight of the book. I loved her colorful behavior, and how she never shirked from discussing anything and everything with her granddaughter. She is a lady who lived her life by coloring outside the lines, and I admired her spirit. If only we could all be like Astrid.
- I liked the way this book explored death. Too often in Western culture, we avoid talking about death because of our own mortal fears. I liked the different perspectives on death, and I loved the idea of the Wishwell. If only it could really happen.
- The romance is lovely. I did struggle with it early on because I thought it moved to fast, and I worried that it was more about lust, but then even Maddie questioned the relationship, concerned that it was lust. It is sweet and wonderful, and it is a relationship born on the idea that you must seize the moment. I also liked that it was realistic.
- The ending was a bit open, but there wasn't a cliffhanger, and the major issues in the book were resolved.
And The Not So Much:
- I was a bit frustrated in the open ending. Yes it was realistic and true to life, but I felt like there was so much more left untold. I wanted to know how things worked out of Maggie.
- I adored Gram, and I wish that more time was spent learning about her life and her past, she was such a colorful and fascinating individual. I couldn't get enough of her.
- I adored Paige, and my heart broke for her. I was left wanting to know more about her, and what happened to her.
The Loose Ends List is a beautifully written book with so many intriguing themes. It features a large cast of eclectic and flawed characters, that will draw you in. It is a heartbreaking and hopeful book, the I hope more people will pick up.
I borrowed a copy of this book from the library. All opinions are my own, and I was not compensated for this review.
"That's how life works. The pain of losing doesn't get less with each person I lose. But I have the wisdome of knowing the pain isn't forever. That fades. The memories stay. And the love isn't going anywhere."