The Reece Malcolm List by Amy Spalding surprised me. Enough people I trust enjoyed it so I knew I would like it, but wasn't expecting to like it as much as I do. It is a really great book that is fun and has real heart and soul too.
Things I know about Reece Malcolm:
1. She graduated from New York University.
2. She lives in or near Los Angeles.
3. Since her first novel was released, she’s been on the New York Times bestseller list every week.
4. She likes strong coffee and bourbon.
5. She’s my mother.
knows very little about Reece Malcolm, until the day her father dies
and she’s shipped off to live with the mother she’s never met. All she
has is a list of notebook entries that doesn’t add up to much.
offers a whole new world to Devan—a performing arts school allows her
to pursue her passion for show choir and musicals, a new circle of
friends helps to draw her out of her shell, and an intriguing boy opens
up possibilities for her first love.
But then the Reece Malcolm
list gets a surprising new entry. Now that Devan is so close to having
it all, can she handle the possibility of losing everything?
The thing I like about The Reece Malcolm List the most is its realism. Now some people may question here whether I've lost my mind, because there is a lot of wish fulfillment sort of stuff in this book. Still I say realism, because the characters are so real. I don't often read contemporary novels with difficult situations I haven't experienced where I feel the characters act exactly the way I would in said situation. So yes, for me this book was perfect. If I had to go live with a mom I had never met at age 16 I would react like Devan. If I had a 16 year old daughter I never expected to see again drop in my life I would react exactly like Reece. I really like how much alike they were and also that they had very real differences. The whole development of their relationship happened very naturally as well. Devan's behavior as a new girl in school is highly relateable too. I moved around a lot and I had her same expectations and patterns of behavior. Still do actually. I loved how she was so happy to find a group of real friends-what she always wanted-and yet was also frustrated by her lack of space for herself. Yes.
My one quibble with the book was the romantic element. I would have liked this book even more without that, but I freely admit that teen readers will probably like that part. It wasn't that I thought it was handled badly, I just didn't care as much. Also I feel like Devan's guy has issues he needs to work out before he dates anyone, but at least Devan seems to understand she is getting a not-entirely-together boyfriend. I did like the relationship between Reece and Brad. It is a rare thing to see healthy adult romantic relationships in YA novels.
I don't know how this book will work for readers who aren't interested in theater and music. Musical theater specifically. Having been a part of the drama/music crowd in high school myself I loved that aspect. It is filled with details of auditions and productions which made it all the more real and alive. It also made me want to listen to all the Sondheim. And that's never a bad thing because Sondheim is amazing.
Note for Concerned Parents: Strong language and some mention of sex