Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Life List by Lori Nelson Spielman

This is one of those novels that has you looking at your life, turning and twisting it; examining where you are and who you are now.

Brett Bohlinger is a 34 year old woman who has just lost her mother to cancer.  Her mother owned a cosmetics company that went from zero to a big business over the years, and Brett expected to take over as CEO when her mother died.  

But her mother has left a few surprises for Brett, and that is what this novel is about.  Elizabeth Bohlinger leaves a will that gives her two sons plenty of money, and her daughter-in-law the position of CEO in the company.  Stunned, Brett learns from Brad, her mother's lawyer, that she has one year to accomplish her "life list" in order to receive her inheritance.  Brett composed this life list when she was 14 years old.  Her mother rescued it from the garbage, and kept it all these years.  Now it will define and change Brett's life.  Her mother was a clever one; leaving a pink envelop for each thing Brett accomplishes.  Her mother is determined to wake Brett up to a life she should be living, not the one she currently occupies.  

Some of the life list items that  Brett has to accomplish:  fall in love (really really in love), have a dog, help the less fortunate, become a teacher, have a relationship with her father, and be friends with Shelley forever.  Written from a 14 year old's perspective, it sounds pretty simple.  But for a 34 year old woman, it's not so easy:  her father is dead, and she let down her friend Shelley years ago and hasn't heard from her since.  Her one foray into teaching ended in disaster and made her leave teaching.

Brett struggles through all of this with the help of Brad, her mother's lawyer.  He seems like quite a catch, but he's already in a relationship.  Will sparks fly?  Just who is Brett supposed to fall in love with, when she's already in a relationship with Andrew?  And why does her mother instruct her sister-in-law (the CEO) to fire her from her job at the cosmetics company?  Her life is crumbling around her and she's forced to rebuild from the ground up.  Can she make the deadline, find happiness, and move past her grief?  

I did enjoy this novel.  Brett takes a while to realize just how unhappy she is; her life is not at all going in the right direction and she's changed into a scared, second guessing woman.  She's not the person she used to be, and that's the point of her mother's strange request.  

I did think sometimes things fell into place a bit too neatly for Brett, but it was a minor glitch in reading this novel.  Yes, she was without a job, and no income.  But she did have some resources to get her through until she did get a job, and really was never in any danger of becoming homeless or completely broke.  It can be easier to change your life when you're not penny pinching and just getting by every week.  

All in all, this was a quick read and perfect for any woman of any age to read.  It does make you think about your dreams and aspirations, and if you're living the life you want to live.  And it may give you the courage to make some changes.  

Rating:  6/10 for a clever plot and engaging characters

Available in paperback or e-book


  1. Good morning Sue.....I stopped in here this morning, because the title of this book sounded interesting. I may have to read this...even though I'm up in years...one can ALWAYS reevaluate one's life and make changes if necessary.



  2. Wow. Some of this sounds a little close for comfort but at the same time that feels quite compelling for me. I think I'm going to have to take a look. Thanks for a great share!