June Parker is an ordinary person who doesn’t strive for much. At 34 she is a writer for LA Rideshare with an obnoxious boss and a relationship that’s hanging on by a thread. When Marissa, an acquaintance and passenger in June’s car, dies in a freak accident, June finds a list Marissa made of 20 things she wanted to accomplish before her 25th
birthday. While visiting Marissa’s grave, June meets Marissa’s brother and comes up with an idea- with 18 tasks left to complete and just months before the deadline, she decides to finish the list in Marissa’s memory.
The accident occurs before the book begins, so the events and details of Marissa’s death are minimized, making this a surprisingly lighthearted and charming story. June feels bad about the accident, of course, but she isn’t suffering from depression or saddled with crushing guilt, perhaps because she barely knew Marissa and the accident was not her fault.
Initially it doesn’t seem possible that the underachieving June will finish the list by the deadline, but we root for her as she checks off each entry, from simple things like “Throw away the bathroom scale” to active things like “Run a 5K” to more meaningful goals such as “Change someone’s life”. As she gets closer to completion, her own life undergoes a transformation. She begins to take risks and soon becomes empowered, gaining respect at work and in her personal life.
I was charmed by The Next Thing On My List. There’s plenty of humor and a great story that makes you contemplate things you’d like to accomplish in your own life. Breezy and fun, it’s the perfect choice for summer reading. Book clubs will enjoy writing their own life lists and sharing them with each other, which is exactly what my book club did tonight!
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