The Loose Ends List
Author: Carrie Firestone
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Pages: 375 pages
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 loose ends. Maddie's plans change the instant Gran announced 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 dream-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, headlines 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.
Thoughts on the book: Having just finished reading what is my favourite book of the year (Black by Fleur Ferris) I was on a reading high, so picking what to read next was a hard choice as I didn't want to be disappointed with my next read. So I chose The Loose Ends List, which has been on my TBR pile for awhile now and I tell you what it comes in a very close second to Black for my favourite book of the year.
The Loose Ends List is a fantastically written debut novel written by Carrie Firestone. It is we meet 17 year old Maddie who is popular, a virgin, beloved granddaughter, has her whole summer planned out, knows what she wants in life and afraid of death. That is until her beloved grandmother calls her whole family to her house and explains that she has pancreatic cancer and has booked everyone on a death with dignity cruise for one last hurrah and so she can be surrounded by her loved ones when she chooses to go. Oh and let's not forget that her Gran (Astrid) also informs everyone that the love of her life will be going on this cruise too, who isn't infact their late grandpa as they thought but someone named Bob Johns. So everyone (well nearly everyone) helps Astrid to pack up her life back here, packs their own bags and sets off on the holiday of a lifetime. Many amazing memories are made and through the good and bad you have to admire Maddie with how well she actually copes. But how do you say goodbye to someone when you believe that you can't live without them.
I can't believe that The Loose Ends List is Carrie Firestone's first book. It is a truly amazing debut novel and has so many amazing concepts in it that I haven't thought of before. I loved the idea of the death with dignity cruise, which allows people to die on their own terms when they feel that they have gone as far as they can make it or the pain has gotten to bad and they aren't living the quality of life that they wanted to. I would have loved to have done this with my grandmother when she got sick, instead of seeing her slowly loose her memory and have to be put into a home, to be able to travel the world with her wow what an adventure that would have been. I loved all of the characters in the book and the changes that they go through throughout the cruise. Each one is suffering or dealing with something in their own way but the journey helps them to come to terms with what they are suffering or dealing with and slowly move on with their lives.
Throughout the book I would come upon something written and think aww yeah I know what's going on but I would end up being so wrong. The Loose Ends List makes you challenge everything you think you knew was going on in the book and turns it around and points you in the other direction. Make sure that you have your tissues ready at the end because I burst into tears and couldn't stop crying for a long time after because I was just heartbroken. I can't say that I have read too many books that have left me feeling like this.
I can't wait to read more by the author and will defiantly be keeping my eyes peeled for more books by her. She is fantastic.
There were many amazing moments and quotes throughout the book that I liked. Here are a few:
“The pain of losing doesn't get less with each person I lose. But I have the wisdom of knowing the pain isn't forever. That fades. The memories stay. And the love isn't going anywhere.”
“Be patient, kiddo. It’ll come.” He turns and faces me. “You know when you fall and get a big old bruise on your leg? That bruise isn’t going anywhere for a while. But it takes longer to heal if you’re pressing on it all the time.” I motion for him to wait while I grab napkins from the bar and blow my nose. “Be gentle with yourself. Listen to good music. Eat good food. Nourish your body and your spirit, and you’ll be all right.”