The Lucky List
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What Parents Need to Know
Parent's need to know that best-selling author Rachael Lippincott's The Lucky List is a coming-of-age novel about facing fears and grief, discovering sexuality, and self-awareness. While packing up for a move, rising senior Emily finds her mother's summer before senior year bucket list. Em's new friend Blake helps her work through the list in their summer before senior year, as a way for Em to feel close to her mother, who died three years before from brain cancer. Characters feel physical attraction, hold hands, and share a handful of kisses. Em describes getting drunk at prom, and underage seniors drink beers at a bonfire. Language use includes "hell," "dick," "ass," "a--hole," "s--t," "bulls--t," and two instances of "f--k" or "f---ing." Aside from the language concerns, this book is fine for younger teens, though the focus on high school seniors is likely to be more appealing to older teens.
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What's the Story?
As THE LUCKY LIST opens, rising senior Emily Clark is having a terrible summer. She's a social pariah after an incident at prom. Her best friend, Kiera, who has stuck by Em, is away for a month as a camp counselor. And her dad is selling their house, where Em grew up with her mom, who died three years before. Then, new girl in town Blake and Em meet and click immediately. While packing, Em finds her mom's bucket list from when she was Em's age. Blake suggests Em do the things on the list as a way to keep her mom's memory alive, and a lovely summer unfolds between them, and Em faces her grief over her mom's death as they complete items from the list. Emily tries to push away her growing attraction to Blake, feeling like the right thing to do is to try to patch things over with her ex, Matt. A senior class trip to the lake gives Em the opportunity to make a bold move, but what is it she really wants?
Is It Any Good?
This charming novel about self-discovery, facing grief, and falling in love satisfies on many levels. Primary characters are well-developed and interesting. The natural world is described in beautiful language. Em's attraction to Blake grows organically, believably. The tense relationship between Em and her dad leads to tear-jerking moments of hard-won connection. Shimmering moments of joy so long lost to Em will have readers cheering for her success long before the bucket list is completed.
Unfortunately, the only Black family in the book set in a small, mostly White town, is under-explored. We don't learn much about why they live in Huckabee, what's it like for them, or how Kiera and Em's moms became best friends. These characters don't feel like full, essential characters. This might not ruin the experience of the lovely story for readers, but how and why (White) authors write characters of color is a good topic to talk about with teen readers. Verdict: The Lucky List is a fun but flawed summer read for teens who enjoy coming-of-age stories with a queer twist.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the loss of loved ones and grief in The Lucky List. How are Emily's and Blake's grief over their mother's deaths different and similar? How do they support each other? What kinds of loss have you had to deal with in your life? Who can you go to when you're grieving a loss?
How are Emily's and Kiera's families connected? How does the author talk about the experiences of Kiera's Black family in mostly White, small-town Huckabee? Why do you think the author wrote Kiera and her family into this story?
What surprised you most about this story or the characters in it? What scenes hit you particularly hard or are most memorable? Why?
- Author: Rachael Lippincott
- Genre: Coming of Age
- Topics: Adventures, Friendship, Great Girl Role Models, High School
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
- Publication date: June 1, 2021
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 18
- Number of pages: 304
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: September 27, 2021
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