Author: Kasie West
Love, Life, and the List is about a teenaged girl named Abby who is in love with her best friend, Cooper Wells. Everyone knows it. Even Cooper knows it. But it doesn’t affect their friendship. Abby’s passion is art, and it’s her dream to participate in an exclusive winter art program, but she’s crushed when her boss at the art museum tells her that her art lacks heart. So, in order to gain some of what she lacks, she compiles The Heart List – a list of things that will stretch her experiences and make her a better artist. When Cooper decides to join her in completing that list, she realizes that she’s expanding her heart in more ways than one.
So, I literally just finished this. I figured I would write my initial review two minutes after putting it down and then the rest of my – more lucid – thoughts tomorrow.
Here goes nothing.
Initial thoughts: It was okay. It was predictable and cheesy, but it passed the time and it made me finish a book. So, really, no downside. However, I do have to say that it’s quite unrealistic to how a teenager would actually think and talk (since I am one, I think I get a say), and the way it’s written doesn’t promote “Best Writing of the Year.” That said, I mean, it was funny and it was cute and sweet and yes, it was predictable, but just the right amount of predictable that made it cliché instead of dumb. I didn’t connect with the protagonist much, and I personally think she didn’t have a lot of depth. So, basically, the book was okay. That’s the best way to describe it for me.
So, this is my actual review of the novel.
Honestly, it was fine. I wasn’t emotionally invested at any point in the story, not even when it was really ‘tense’ and supposedly anxiety-inducing. The writing style was the kind that makes you keep reading, but isn’t necessarily good. Does that make any sense?
Again, I really didn’t like how it felt so disjointed, and as a 17-year-old who is reading about a fellow 17-year-old, I felt like Abby was a middle-aged woman trying to be young. Her feelings were too simple and one-sided, it was almost two-dimensional.
I’m also beginning to really hate the perfect guy trope. You know, the one where he’s good looking and tall and athletic and funny and a charmer, but he has just that one flaw. Yeah, I found that again in this book. Didn’t care much for it. Cliché characters don’t work their magic on me anymore, because I want a cliché character that isn’t so obviously cliché.
Now, since this is the non-spoilery section, I have to mention some other things in general. The writing was enh. The story was enh. The protagonist was enh. But I kept reading anyway. The book was good for just that one reason. A mediocre book becomes a smidge better just because its plot is relatively engaging and though you know how it’s going to end, you still want to see it happen.
This book is perfect for wanting to escape for a couple of hours and go into a predictable, mostly-optimistic world. It tried to get realistic and ‘sad’, but no, it never got to that point for me.
So yeah, it was a decent novel. A decent contemporary. It was just okay.
EVERYTHING BEYOND THIS POINT CONTAINS SPOILERS. READ AT YOUR OWN DISCRETION.
It might just be me, but I didn’t find Abby relatable at all. I mean, sure, worried about not getting into the post-secondary program you want is pretty terrifying and realistic at this age, but her reaction, and the events that follow just don’t seem…right to me. She was kind of shallow and her concerns about life and the future seemed awfully…surface-y. There was stuff about self-esteem and learning and growth, but I didn’t feel her character development, you know? Actually, if I’m being honest, I didn’t feel much from this book at all.
Cooper. Annoyed. The hell. Out of me. Yeah, yeah he’s the perfect guy and your hands are perfectly proportioned and he’s the bestest friend in the whole world but why can’t he just love me? Ugh. Really. I hate that trope. I guess that makes me dislike Abby too, and though I did, I didn’t like Cooper all that much either. He is unfair, a coward, and the type of guy I’d probably grow to resent eventually (if he were my friend). He knew that Abby was in love with him, and he was more than happy to ignore it. Sorry, but I really don’t like that in a person. It makes him imperfect, but it also took away from this book because I personally think it would’ve been better if he actually rejected her and then proceeded to get awkward every time it was brought up instead of toying with her feelings.
Abby was frustrating. Cooper was frustrating. Why else did I give this less than a 4-star rating? Sorry about the following rant, but…everyone was so flat. All the characters were flat. Situations changed and their responses changed, but I didn’t feel like anybody changed. The story was more about Abby staying in love with Cooper instead of actively trying to move on (I mean, c’mon, you’ve got a guy like Elliot who likes you, and you treat him like that for a best friend that ignores your feelings?). If the novel was about Abby learning how to accept herself and love her art, or some other internal journey like that – which it was, but just barely – then I probably would’ve liked it more.
Alas, I did not. The word I would use to describe this book is okay.
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments down below!