A girl and a boy holding hands in an art gallery

About the Book

Title: Love, Life and the List
Published: 2017
Swoonworthy Scale: 6

Cover Story: Fits the Bill
BFF Charm: Platinum
Talky Talk: Easy, Breezy
Bonus Factors: Kick-Ass Gramps, Art Museums
Relationship Status: Draw Me Like One Of Your French Girls

Cover Story: Fits the Bill

Kasie West writes approximately 672 books a year, and the covers all look a little something like this: a girl, usually in a sundress, a boy with nice sneakers, their faces obscured or their heads cut off—you know, so you can envision what they look like with your own imagination! This cover fits the bill, but it’s in an art museum, because Abby is an artist.

The Deal:

Abby is dying to get into a prestigious winter art program for high school seniors, and in order to get accepted, she needs to show her work publicly and hopefully sell a piece or two. She presents her work to the curator at the art museum where she works, hoping he will let her be a part of their upcoming art show and sale. But when she learns that her work lacks depth and emotion, she creates the Heart List: a list of necessary life experiences that will help her grow as an artist.

From falling in love to trying new things, Abby has one summer to expand her horizons, and hopefully get over Cooper. He’s been her BFF for years, even if Abby is not-so-secretly in love with him. Pining over a boy who doesn’t love her back is not a check box on her Heart List, though, so Abby has to decide between moving on or putting her best friendship on the line for love.

BFF Charm: Platinum

BFF platinum charm

Abby is by far my favorite Kasie West protagonist. I loved how passionate she was about her art, and how open she was to seeing her own flaws and making positive changes in her life. But so many times, artists can be presented as overly dramatic, sensitive, and pretentious creatures. Abby was none of the above. Her acerbic wit and sarcasm had me laughing on nearly every page, and she was always down for a little adventure.

Swoonworthy Scale: 6

Ahhh, Cooper. Abby’s BFF is a cute, blonde, quad-racing champion (I had to Google quads, by the way. Where I’m from, we call them four-wheelers.) but he’s also a bit clueless and carefree with Abby’s emotions. He clearly loves her a lot—as a friend. They spend every waking moment together, he’s tight with her family, and she’s basically his #1 priority, except for when he starts dating other girls (and frequently, even then). Their friendship is also extremely casual about physical contact. You’re never really sure if Coop knows how Abby feels about him, so every time he puts an arm around her or grabs her hand or tickles her, you get a weird mixture of heartache and swoon butterflies all at once. I couldn’t ever pin down how I felt about Cooper though. Part of me loved him for being a great friend, but another part of me was weary that he was immature and careless with Abby’s heart.

To add to this, there’s Elliot, an artist with some serious hots for Abby, who might be just the right guy to help her move on from Cooper. As you might imagine, things get messy, and I wasn’t completely sure that I was on board with how things resolved themselves.

Talky Talk: Easy, Breezy

I don’t think it’s ever taken me longer than 48 hours to read a Kasie West book. My girl is always there for me when I want something quick, light, funny and sweet. It’s like a palette cleanser after a thousand pages of epic dystopian trilogy. Her characters are so likeable, and in particular, Love, Life, and the List made me laugh out loud frequently.

Bonus Factor: Kick-Ass Gramps

Peter Falk from The Princess Bride with a mischievous twinkle in his eye

Abby’s father is stationed in the Middle East, while her mother suffers from an ever-worsening case of agoraphobia and rarely leaves the house. Since Abby’s Grandpa Dave lives with them, he is usually her partner in crime for errands around town. Grandpa Dave is the BEST, Y’ALL. He and Abby are always ribbing each other over their respective ages, and his humor and sarcasm were just as biting as her own. But he’s also super supportive of her art and always trying to set her up with new boys. Everyone needs a Grandpa Dave.

Bonus Factor: Art Museums

girl using iphone to take photo in an art gallery

Art museums are my favorite places, and Abby works part time in her local art museum. I loved seeing her be so passionate about them, leading docent tours and setting up for art shows. 

Relationship Status: Draw Me Like One of Your French Girls

Book, reading you was like staring at a painting of sunshine on a rainy day. But I’d say you’re more Impressionist than Realist—the closer I look, the most flaws I find. So I’m gonna stand back at a distance, appreciate how you made me feel, and maybe I’ll revisit you again in the future.

FTC Full Disclosure: This review was originally posted on Kirkus Reviews in exchange for monetary compensation, which did not affect or influence my opinions. Love, Life, and the List will be available December 26, 2017.

Rosemary lives in Little Rock, AR with her husband and cocker spaniel. At 16, she plucked a copy of Sloppy Firsts off the "New Releases" shelf and hasn't stopped reading YA since. She is a brand designer who loves tiki drinks, her mid-century modern house, and obsessive Google mapping.