First loves. Last Wishes. Letting go.
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.
The Loose Ends List by Carrie Firestone: Review
Note: I received this book as an ARC from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers through NetGalley in return for an honest review.
The Loose Ends List follows the events of teenager Maddie’s crazy, unique family as they discover that Maddie’s grandmother has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. She has paid for an all-inclusive cruise aboard the Wishwell ship: a ‘death-with-dignity’ cruise that will take Gram, her family and other patients with terminal illnesses on the trip of a lifetime, dictated by Gram’s mysterious itinerary. They travel the globe, visiting places close to Gram’s heart while making new friends, creating new memories and finding new love along the way.
The first thing that intrigued me was the cover. It’s so colourful and pretty that I picked it to read straight away. At first, I wasn’t a fan of the protagonist Maddie. She seemed like a spoilt teenager who fits in with the popular crowd. However, as the book progressed, I started to like her a lot more as we find out more about her character and the more likeable sides of her personality.
“I especially loved the dynamic between Maddie and her Gram… [it] made the book so much fun to read.”
Her family and the relationship between them was a highlight of the book. Some of their conversational banter had me laughing out loud! I especially loved the dynamic between Maddie and her Gram. At one point, Gram encourages Maddie to get a tattoo on her bum. Maddie responds, “Fine. I’ll do it. I will suffer for you, you sadistic old nut.” It’s things like this that made the book so much fun to read.
When I read the premise that the book, it seemed like it’d be full of death and sadness. I was so wrong. The theme of death and terminal illness is dealt with so well. It did hit me several times. though, that we might see the characters we’ve come to know and love die, and it was a horrible feeling. But every death was dealt with tremendously. It really does set in stone the Wishwell mantra: death with dignity.
I really enjoyed this book and I’d recommend it to anybody who wants something emotional and uplifting to read. It’s a great read for this summer!
About the Author
Carrie Firestone has lived in rural, urban, and suburban places, and, while she currently lives in the suburbs, she is decidedly a CITY person. She loves parties, and all kinds of music, and books about random people doing random things in random places. She loves to travel with her husband, and two daughters, Lauren and Emily. When she isn’t writing, you might find her reluctantly sharing her popcorn at the movies, trying to get people (or dogs) to do a conga line, or adding items to her loose ends list. You can find Carrie on her website or on Twitter.