A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Shows ways some young people can process grief.
If you don't feel good about the expectations your friends and family have for you, you have the right to be honest about that. People who truly love you will accept you for who you are no matter what. Things may not work out the way you thought they would or should, but they will usually work out. Grieving is a long, perhaps never-ending process, but you will feel joy again, you will have peace again.
Positive Role Models
Main character Emily Clark hasn't truly moved on after her mother's death, but with the help of new friend Blake Carter, she faces fears and begins to move through her grief. She figures out who she is, what she really wants, and how to keep her mother's legacy alive by the close of the book. In terms of representation, Em and her dad are White, Blake's dad is White, her mom was Japanese, Em's best friend Kiera and her family are Black. The story takes place in a fictional, rural town. Several characters are gay.
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Physical attraction is described in several instances. A handful of kisses are shared between same-gender and opposite-gender characters. One couple talks about taking their relationship "to the next level."
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Swearing occurs on regularly including "hell," "dick," "ass," "a--hole," "s--t/bulls--t," and two instances of "f--k" and "f--king." One use of "lame."
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Products & Purchases
Some brands are mentioned for scene-setting and realism: Brita, Goodwill, Bubble Yum, Google, FaceTime, TikTok, Nintendo Switch, Fortnite, Instagram, Netflix. Some musicians are mentioned as well, including Maggie Rogers, Billie Eilish, and Lorde.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Underage drinking occurs a couple times. A character reveals in flashback that she got drunk on moonshine at prom, and beers are consumed on a senior trip.
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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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.