Thanks to Net Galley and to Bonnier Publishing for offering me a free ARC copy of this novel that I voluntarily have decided to review.
The plot of this novel fits perfectly in the category of chick lit or romantic comedy, and I could almost watch the movie in my mind’s eye as I read it. Abi , Bridget Jones’s spiritual sister, is suddenly dropped by her boyfriend of almost a year, Joseph (“the one”) and she’s desperate. She comes across his bucket list by pure chance and, clutching at straws, thinks that if she were to achieve all the items on the list (more or less) and share the pictures on Facebook, he would realise what a mistake he’d made and go back to her. Abi (and as we learn as we read, Joseph also) is not very adventurous. In fact, she’s worried about everything and scared of almost everything (especially heights). Her friend Sian, a fun character and a great contrast with Abi, doesn’t really like Joseph much, and her attitude to love is so different to Abi’s that she decides to lie to her and everybody else, and tells them that the list is her way to try and get over her break-up. On hearing that, everybody offers to help her. And, indeed, she needs all the help she can get.
The book becomes naturally organised around Abi’s adventures in trying to fulfil her bucket list, which go from pathetic to funny, passing from embarrassing. Apart from the events surrounding the ten items in the list, she’s also getting in trouble at work, at first through her own doing, and later bizarre things start to happen and she suspects that there might be foul play.
The novel is written in the first person from Abi’s point of view, and although she’s not the most insightful or reliable narrator, to begin with, and her weakness and her obsession with Joseph might make the reader cringe, eventually she does discover herself as a separate person and one capable of much more than she gives herself credit for. She is surrounded by a likeable supporting cast (and a few not so likeable when not openly bitchy) and through them, readers can appreciate that she is perhaps not the best at judging how she comes across to others. The author is also adept at giving us enough clues to allow us to make our own minds up rather than accept Abi’s biased conclusions, not an easy thing to do when the events are shown from a single perspective.
The writing is fluid and easy to read and although readers of the genre will probably guess what’s going to happen pretty much from the word go, the fine details are enjoyable, and there is a touch of intrigue to keep us interested beyond the pure romance. And for those who love romance, although we see Joseph mostly from Abi’s starry-eyed perspective and he is hardly a real person, Ben, who is almost too perfect to be true (other than by the tiny detail of having a girlfriend) is somebody easy to like and one to root for. And my bet is that you’ll like Aby by the end of the story and you’ll be wondering about the psychological benefits of bucket lists for yourself. I particularly appreciated the final words by the author who acknowledged there was a personal basis behind the seed of the novel.
In sum, a light and easy to read the novel, satisfying if you’re looking for an amusing and sweet read, with no erotica, and no shocking surprises. Great for those moments when you don’t want to test your brain and want a read that will leave you with a smile.