West, Kasie. Love, Life and the List. HarperTeen, 2017. 384p. ISBN 978-0062675774. $17.99. MS HS ***
Abby is in love with her best friend Cooper. She tried to come clean with him last summer but his less than enthusiastic response made her pass it off as a joke. Now summer has started, their other two best friends are off on their own adventures and so it is just her and Cooper. To complicate things further, Abby’s mother’s anxiety is at an all-time high and her paintings are rejected from an art show because her work lacks emotional depth. Abby decides that she will take a month for having ten new experiences to give more depth. With the help of her sarcastic grandfather she creates a list of ten things ranging from “read a classic work of literature” to “face a fear,” all of which are designed to help her build up some heart. And of course Cooper is along for the ride.
This is a fairly unremarkable teen romance. West tries to add some substance by including issues like Abby’s mothers challenging anxiety, her father’s deployment to Iraq and some concerning boundary crossing by her father. Yet these things are never really explored in much detail and at times border on being trite. While Abby has some complexity to her character Cooper is really just a bro and not all that likeable. Most characters are white though Abby’s best girlfriend Rachel is black. Unfortunately she is included as a side note rather than a main player as she leaves for the whole summer in the second chapter. On the plus side, West can be counted on to deliver romance that is safe for middle school readers and more conservative parents/teens.
Carla Avitabile, San Mateo Library