Author: Morgan Matson
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult
Length: 449 pages
Emily Hughes is a seventeen-year old who just finished her junior year. As summer vacation begins, her best friend Sloane disappears without an explanation. Soon, Emily receives a “to do” list in the mail. Sloane has created a list of thirteen activities Emily is supposed to complete over the summer.
Emily was the shy one who relied on Sloane the past two years to bring her out of her shell. She can’t imagine doing many of the items on the list, a list that includes activities such as: Kiss a Stranger, Break Something, Hug a Jamie, and Apple Picking at Dark. But in hopes that completing the items on the list will somehow lead to her lost friend, Emily begins.
She enlists the help of an unlikely Boy Scout type of guy from school and his best friend. She also becomes friends with a girl at work. With the help of her new friends, she works through the list, stepping out of her comfort zone in many cases.
The book takes place over the course of the summer.
I loved this book! Based on the thirteen items listed on the back cover, I didn’t expect it to engage me. I had picked it up only because I heard that it was good. There wasn’t anything magical or out of this world in the book; it was just real life. However, I would say this is one of the best contemporary Young Adult books I have read. Ms. Matson did an amazing job of getting into Emily’s head and transporting me back to what it felt like to be a teen.
I believe many readers, especially those who are not naturally outgoing, will identify with Emily. She feels lost at the beginning of the novel. We root for her as she matures and becomes her own person separate from her best friend.
I felt comfortable letting my tween read this novel, as the mature content was limited and not the focus. There was some underage drinking, use of a fake ID, skinny-dipping, and a couple of kisses. My daughter enjoyed it too, by the way.
I am a member of two book clubs, and we read a variety of genres. Plus, as a Young Adult author, I am constantly reading YA books to improve my writing.
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