Welcome to Wittkop Reads. I am an Iowa teacher librarian in a shared middle school & high school library, and have recently begun my journey as a book reviewer. This blog will share my thoughts and updates on the Middle Grade and Young Adult books I am reading. Follow me here to keep up on what I am reading and recommending. Thanks for stopping by, and I hope that you find something interesting to add to your "To be Read" list. Happy reading!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Loose Ends List by Carrie Firestone

Recommended For: Young Adult Readers

Thank you Netgalley, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, and Carrie Firestone for selecting me to read and review a digital ARC of this book.

"You know I love volcanoes?  I love how they spew searing, deadly lava that goes on to nurture the most beautiful landscapes on earth.  It's from searing pain that the deepest beauty can sprout."

--The Loose Ends List

17 year-old Maddie O'Neill Levine has just graduated from high school and is looking forward  to spending the summer between high school and college living it up with her best friends whom she calls "the Es".  Maddie leads a charmed life with a very tight, but kind of crazy family.  Her  grandma, Astrid, is the matriarch of the family, and Maddie is extremely close to her.  As Maddie is preparing to start her summer she is summoned, along with the rest of her family, to her grandma's penthouse.  When they all arrive, Astrid drops a giant bomb on the family.  She has cancer, she is dying, and she wants them all to join her on a cruise around the world for the summer.  She plans to celebrate her life, share some special places, and go out in her own way.  She also lets them know that they will be embarking on the "Wishwell" ship for terminal patients and their families.  It allows them to travel and spend time together before choosing to end her life as their trip ends.  It is a death with dignity cruise ship!

The entire family is shocked and each handles the news in their own way.  But eventually most choose to join Grandma Astrid on her crazy cruise.  Astrid has big plans and big surprises for her family on their cruise.  She has planned the entire journey down to the smallest details.  Through their journey on the "Wishwell", we get to know Maddie's amazing and hilarious family.  We also meet other patients and their families, and share in their journey.  Maddie discovers and grows so much through this journey, she faces her fears, connects with her family, and meets not one but 2 soulmates who will change her life forever.  

I can honestly say the summary of this book drew me in, but it also scared me a bit.  I knew this book would push me out of my comfort zone and make me think more deeply about life, death and the choices we have.  It did all of these things and more!  Firestone helped me to embrace the uncomfortable topic by giving me characters to love, laugh at, and connect with on an extremely personal level.  Her mix of hilarious scenes, wit in the most random places, and the candid ways that she shares her characters life with the reader are beautiful and meaningful.  I can't recommend this book highly enough.  I loved Maddie and the amazing Astrid!  Bravo, Carrie Firestone, you made me laugh out loud, made me cry both sad and happy tears, and made my heart and mind grow with love.  I will truly miss the "Wishwell" and these wonderful characters!  I just might have to make my own "Loose Ends List".