Written By: Lori Nelson Spielman
Published By: Bantam Books an Imprint of Random House Publishing July 2, 2013
Length: 368 pages
Source: Egalley via Edelweiss and Publisher
Brett Bohlinger has just lost her mother, Elizabeth, a mother she admired her entire life. Brett’s mother had done everything she could for her, taught her life lessons and been there as a safety net when things didn’t work out. Brett is so distraught during her mom’s funeral luncheon that she sneaks upstairs and hides in her mom’s bedroom. She finds the expensive bottle of champagne that was bought to celebrate when Elizabeth kicked cancer’s butt, but now Brett opens it to drown her sorrows. She also spies a diary, with a note to her….with the advise to read it when she is less emotional…so she waits. She also drinks too much, and falls down the stairs…
As she and her two brother’s and their wives sit in a lawyer’s office listening to the reading of Elizabeth’s will, Brett is shocked to learn she is not named as CEO of her mother’s cosmetic business, but she is also not given her inheritance as her brothers are. The lawyer, Brad, explains to her that her mother wants her to complete the items on her Life List…a crumpled legal pad piece of of paper is given to her. She barely recalls making this list at age 14….and how things have changed! Brett doesn’t have any idea how she’s going to complete this list…in one year too. Just what was Elizabeth thinking when she made these outlandish demands?
With no expectations beyond a story to get lost in, I began reading this book Tuesday afternoon, and was within 30 pages of finishing at 4am Wednesday morning…but I had to sleep. This book captured my attention and my heart. Brett is a woman who seems to have settled for what she’s got in her life…job, boyfriend, friendships, everything. The news of the conditions of her inheritance is startling, nearly 20 years after writing her life list she doesn’t even have most of the dreams she did at 14. What Brett doesn’t expect is that with the encouragement from her mother’s notes she begins tackling the list one at a time. After each success she is given another note, well her mom’s lawyer Brad reads them to her, and it’s as if her mom is right there, following Brett’s thoughts and choices.
I was worried at one point that this book might get kind of predictable, but it didn’t. The journey that Brett began was one of discovery, discovery of herself. Her list included having a baby maybe two, be an awesome teacher, have a cool house, fall in love, and get a dog for goodness sakes! Other items were more elusive, like having a relationship with her now deceased father. Brett uncovers family secrets and those impact her whole family.
This book was comforting, and warm. It made me think of my own life list, the one I don’t really have written down. This is Lori Nelson Spielman‘s first novel. I look forward to much more from this new voice. 4 stars.