By: Katy Regan
Published Year: 2013
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd
Summary (Provided by Goodreads): There are some people you can’t imagine life without.
Liv Jenkins had been meticulously planning her ultimate to-do list – from the outrageous to sensible – of everything she longed to do before her dreaded thirtieth birthday, but when tragedy struck she never got the chance…
Two years later, Liv’s five closest friends have come together on the anniversary of her death and have made a pact: they will complete Liv’s to-do list in tribute to her memory.
Over the next year, before what would’ve been Liv’s thirtieth birthday, her friends set out to complete the tasks. But along the way deeply buried secrets, silent guilt, unrequited love and years of lies, rise to the surface rocking their friendships.
When they reach the end of Liv’s list the final task shakes the group to their core and they realize that they must face their futures and the consequences of their pasts, and with Liv’s help, live the lives they have always dreamed of.
I first heard of this book on a list of chick lit for book clubs. The cover immediately caught my eye and then the summary immediately made me put it on my to-read list. I really wanted to pick it as a book club read since it’s all about a group of friends, but unfortunately it is not available in the US. But that didn’t stop me from getting it for myself!
What I thought
This book was not quite what I expected it to be, but was still enjoyable and would definitely have made a great book club read.
Liv, Fraser, Melody, Norm, Mia, and Anna are a group of best friends that came together in University. Melody and Norm are the perfect couple and shortly after graduation, Liv and Fraser started dating. On one of their group vacations to Ibiza, Liv dies at age 27 (I think), causing the group to fall apart. Two years after her death, Norm finds a list that Liv wrote of things she wanted to do before 30. Since Liv will never be able to accomplish these tasks, Mia decides that they should complete the list for her. The story follows the group of friends as they work towards completing the list as well as coming to terms with the facts that they’re growing older, their lives are changing, and the death of their closest friend.
I think what threw me off about this book is that when I initially read the summary I didn’t realize it was a group of both male and female friends. As a result, I didn’t realize that romance was going to play such a large part in the story. I expected the story to be a bit more about a group of friends completing a list of activities together and becoming closer while dealing with their grief. Instead, it’s more about a group of friends coming to terms with the fact that their relationships are changing as they get older.
This book is an interesting take on friendship. Most books that I read that focus on friendship are with high schoolers. Since these characters are closer to my age than high schoolers are (eek!) it was a different experience. They also deal with a lot of different issues than high school friends do. Specifically, they are questioning being grown-ups and whether they are at a place in their lives that their younger selves either imagined them being in or would be proud of them being in. I completely understand the struggle of being a certain age and wondering if where you are in life is where you should be; especially when you start to compare yourself to other people who are the same age as you.
Like I mentioned, romantic relationships do take a big part of this book. Melody and Norm were the perfect couple, but now after 3 years of marriage things are rocky. Mia has a young baby (under a year old) and is trying to figure out her relationship with the baby’s father. Fraser is still coming to terms with the fact that his girlfriend died. He is dealing with whether or not he can be in a relationship. There is also some tension between Fraser and Mia that they refuse to deal with.
Because of all of the relationships and all of the issues they have to deal with, this would be a great book club book. There are so many great discussion points. The story is told from Mia and Fraser’s perspectives with occasional input from Norm and Melody. I do wish there had been some more of Anna in the story as I felt like she got very left out. Other than that, I felt like the balance between the friends worked very well. The pace of the book also worked really well for me and I never felt like it was dragging.
I will say that the list itself is not as big of a plot point as the summary made it seem. It is more of a catalyst for certain events, but is not a central point in which the characters revolve around. I think I’d still like to read a book more similar to what I thought this book was going to be, but I still appreciate this story for what it was.
By: Katy Regan