Title: Love, Life, and the List
Author: Kasie West
Release Date: December 26th 2017
Everyone knows Abby Turner is in love with her best friend, Cooper Wells. Including Cooper Wells. But despite what people tell her, it doesn’t affect their friendship. And she’s practically over it, anyway. What she really can’t get over is when her boss at the local museum tells her that her paintings lack heart.
Art is Abby’s passion and she hopes her future as well. She is determined to change his mind and earn her way into the upcoming exhibit at the gallery. So along with her family’s help, she compiles “The Heart List,” a series of soul stretching experiences that are sure to make her a deeper person and better artist in six weeks or less. When Cooper decides to complete the list along with her, she realizes this list is expanding her heart in more ways than one. Maybe she needs to start another project.
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
My Thoughts On…
When Abby asks her boss to display some of her paintings in the upcoming show she’s hurt when he refuses, telling her her paintings lack ‘heart’, but she isn’t giving up. With two weeks still to go before he makes the final decisions Abby comes up with “The Heart List”, a checklist to help her gain the qualities she admires so much in her friends and family; her grandpa’s courage, her friends’ kindness and selflessness, and Cooper’s fearlessness.
After really not enjoying Lucky in Love, and being kind of disappointed in By Your Side I was ready to give up on Kasie West’s books all together, thinking I’d outgrown them, but Love, Life, and the List restored my faith. At its heart Love, Life, and the List is a sweet YA contemporary with a fluffy romance (even without reading the book you can probably guess from the blurb how the story ends) but I loved every page.
Abby is in love with Cooper, she even confessed her feelings for him but backtracked when she realised they weren’t reciprocated, and try as hard as she can she’s not over him. When Abby tells him about her plan Cooper decides to complete “The Heart List” with her, and when Abby finds herself growing in more ways than just her ability as an artist she realises maybe she needs to finally move on from her best friend.
This is the kind of story I want more of from Kasie West; with characters like Abby who grow in unexpected ways throughout the book, with a romance that has a solid foundation, with side characters who are loving and supportive and who have their own story arcs. In some ways Love, Life, and the List reminded me of P.S. I Like You, because it’s the kind of story I hope to read whenever I pick up a Kasie West book.
Abby is incredible passionate about her art, and when she hears what her boss thinks it knocks her confidence, but not for long. Abby is determined to better herself and her art, and she takes what she admires in the people she loves and plans to use it to make herself a better artist. You can see Abby’s development as she crosses more and more items off her “Heart List”; she takes more risks, is more open to new experiences, and starts to become more confident and grow out of the small, isolated circle of friends she’s always had.
We’re told Abby is really close to her friends, Cooper, Rachel and Justin, but with Rachel and Justin away for the summer it’s just Abby and Cooper left behind. I would have loved to see more development of Abby’s relationships with Rachel and Justin because it felt very much like we were told how close they all were rather than shown, but I loved watching her relationships with Lacey and Elliot grow. These are two people who are passionate about something the same way Abby is, and they seem to have an instant connection through that passion.
Him not returning her feelings hasn’t affected Cooper’s friendship with Abby. The two are still really close, the very best of friends, but I enjoyed how their relationship still had room to develop in this book. Even though Cooper isn’t an artist he is wholly supportive of Abby’s passion, even when it means he has to get up at 4am to watch the sunrise. There were times when I think Cooper took Abby for granted, but she’s always been there for him so it makes her making new friends in Lacey and Elliot all the more out-standing.
The relationship Abby has with her family is a close one which I loved reading. Even though her father is currently away on deployment he’s still a present part of her life, I enjoyed reading the emails sent back and forth between them, and I loved the banter Abby had with her grandpa too. One thing I thought was done really well was Abby’s mother’s agoraphobia. It wasn’t as severe as in other books I’ve read but it was well handled especially when it came to impact it had not only on her mother’s life but Abby’s too.
While there were some things in Love, Life and the List I would have enjoyed seeing developed a little more compared to the previous two books by Kasie West I’ve read Love, Life, and the List is definite improvement. Abby had some amazing development and I loved seeing her grow as her “Heart List” expanded so much more than just her ability as an artist.
What did you think of Love, Life, and the List? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.