Summary (From the publisher): Emily and her mom were always lucky. Every month they’d take her lucky quarter, select lucky card 505, and dominate the heatedly competitive bingo night in their small, quirky town of Huckabee. But Emily’s mom’s luck ran out three years ago when she succumbed to cancer, and nothing has felt right for Emily since.
Now, the summer before her senior year, things are getting worse. Not only has Emily wrecked things with her boyfriend Matt, who her mom adored, but her dad is selling the house she grew up in and giving her mom’s belongings away. Soon, she’ll have no connections left to Mom but that lucky quarter. And with her best friend away for the summer and her other friends taking her ex’s side, the only person she has to talk to about it is her dad’s best friend’s daughter, Blake, a girl she barely knows.
But that’s when Emily finds the list—her mom’s senior year summer bucket list—buried in a box in the back of her closet. When Blake suggests that Emily take it on as a challenge, the two set off on a journey to tick each box and help Emily face her fears before everything changes As they go further down the list, Emily finally begins to feel closer to mom again, but her bond with Blake starts to deepen, too, into something she wasn’t expecting. Suddenly Emily must face another fear: accepting the secret part of herself she never got a chance to share with the person who knew her best.
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
Back in September, I read Rachael Lippincott & Mikki Daughtry’s All This Time, making me want to check out more books by both authors, including Rachael Lippincott’s first solo book, The Lucky List. Taking place over my favorite season, SUMMER, the book follows upcoming high school senior, Emily, whose summer is looking a little bleak: she’s just broken up with her on-and-off again boyfriend, Matt, again & maybe this time for good; because of the break-up, she’s on the outs with her friend group; her best friend, Kiera, is away at summer camp; and her dad is finally read to move out of Emily’s childhood home and start cleaning out her mom’s belongings, who died from cancer 3 years before. Emily hasn’t felt like herself over those 3 years, but discovers a new connection to her mom when she finds her mom’s summer bucket list from her own senior year. When her dad’s best friend and his daughter, Blake, move back to town, Emily & Blake team up together to complete the bucket list. Emily begins to feel like the old her, including unopened feelings about her sexuality and more-than-friends feels she is developing for Blake.
The Lucky List was a really cute summer YA contemporary while also diving into deeper themes surrounding Emily’s loss and coming out. Throughout, Emily is grieving over her mom’s death and how she just hasn’t felt like herself since. Through the bucket list, Blake helps Emily work through her emotions. The story felt really full circle near the end, as the book does connect back to the moment when Emily’s mom was diagnosed with cancer and Emily recognizing her sexuality. I always make sure to note this when a book does indeed bring on the tears because yes I do read a lot of emotional books that make me sad but so few make me cry. However, I had tons of tears rolling down my face near the end of the book involving a scene with Emily and her dad and her mom’s clothes, which led me to cry over the follow-up scenes.
The book also does have a ton of light-hearted moments, mostly surrounding Blake and Emily’s bucket list completion. I especially loved the chapters when they trek to the Jersey shore for surfing! Emily and Blake’s relationship felt really developed, as they move from friendship into something more. My heart broke so many times a long the way, as Emily feels pressured from her friends and her memories of her mom to try to rekindle something with Matt while denying feelings for Blake. There’s no themes of anti-acceptance, but rather, I think Emily struggles with being the person her mom knew vs. the person she really is.
On the way home from work one day, I listened to an episode of Rachael Lippincott’s book podcast with Lianna Rana, On the Books, talking about The Lucky List. It was really cool to hear about Rachael Lippincott’s inspiration & personal story behind the book, her marriage (including being married by a former professor and fellow YA contemporary author…), and her and her wife’s own bucket list leading up to The Lucky List’s publication.
Overall, The Lucky List was a really heartfelt YA contemporary balancing summer fun and coming-of-age themes with LGBTQ+ representation. This is definitely another book to add to your beach bag this summer (just make sure you also pack some tissues)!
The Lucky List comes out on June 1st, 2021.
This review is based on an advance reader’s copy provided by the publisher. By no means did receiving this ARC affect my thoughts or opinions.
Is The Lucky List on your TBR? Have you read any books by Rachael Lippincott? Do you have summer bucket list? Share in the comments!