Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers on June 7th 2016
Seventeen-year-old Maddie O'Neill Levine lives a charmed life, and is primed to spend the perfect pre-college summer with her best friends and young-at-heart socialite grandmother (also Maddie's closest confidante), tying up high school loose ends. Maddie's plans change the instant Gram announces that she is terminally ill and has booked the family on a secret "death with dignity" cruise ship so that she can leave the world in her own unconventional way - and give the O'Neill clan an unforgettable summer of dreams-come-true in the process.
Soon, Maddie is on the trip of a lifetime with her over-the-top family. As they travel the globe, Maddie bonds with other passengers and falls for Enzo, who is processing his own grief. But despite the laughter, headiness of first love, and excitement of glamorous destinations, Maddie knows she is on the brink of losing Gram. She struggles to find the strength to say good-bye in a whirlwind summer shaped by love, loss, and the power of forgiveness.
A big shoutout to the NOVL newsletter for allowing me the opportunity to receive a copy of this book!
Have you ever read the summary of a book and just knew you were going to enjoy it? That’s what happened when I first learned about The Loose Ends List. As soon as I started reading it, I couldn’t help but think of my aunt, who lost her battle with cancer one day after her 50th birthday, and how the adventures that take place in this book would have been something she would have loved to have done.
What an incredible journey this book took me on! And something entirely unique to the contemporary YA community. Sure, it touches on a topic that people either “accept” or not – death with dignity. For me, I’ve now read two books that touch on this topic, this one being the first where it is mentioned in a YA book, and I’ve also read several real-life accounts on the topic. So, like any book touching on controversial topics, I try to go in with an open mind & a willingness to put myself in the shoes of those experiencing the given situation(s) first hand.
Let me rewind real fast…
Maddie’s grandmother has terminal cancer and after telling the news to her family, also informs them that she has booked them all on an 8-week cruise, where she will then “die with dignity” come the end of it. The point of the cruise you may ask? The chance for Grandma O’Neill to take her family on once in a lifetime adventures and to tie up a few “loose ends” of her own.
Maddie has just finished high school and is ready to spend her summer with her best friends and boyfriend, however, once finding out the news of her grandmother, must accept the fact that her summer won’t be spent how she planned. Plus, she catches her boyfriend cheating on her. So adios, Ethan. Hello Wishwell cruise ship.
While the situations that took place in this book were upsetting, there were times where I found myself being encouraged by the humor and the ways in which the “sick” characters decided to spend their last days/weeks with their loved ones on this incredible cruise ship. For me, this book opened my eyes to endless possibilities and I have a feeling, after finishing it, that Maddie – our main character – felt the same way. In fact, I believe that for her whole family. Yes, they lost a loved one in the end, but gained so much from her love and dedication that took them on the most epic of family vacations.
As I sit here and try to write an epic review to go along with such an epic book, I find myself struggling. I enjoyed this book so much and in such an unexpected way. I think anyone who reads it will take something different from it come the last page because no two people are a like and everyone deals with unimaginable circumstances differently.
So, this summer, I hope you make room for The Loose Ends List on her reading list. It truly was a magical book and one of my first 5-star reads for 2016.