Book Review: The Lucky List

Rachael Lippincott

Rating: 4 out of 5.

published: 21st June 2021
spoilers? minimal


Emily and her mum were always lucky.

But Emily’s mum’s luck ran out three years ago when she succumbed to cancer, and nothing has felt right since.

Now, the summer before her senior year, things are worse than ever – Emily has wrecked things with her boyfriend, Matt, and her dad is selling the house she grew up in and giving her mum’s belongings away. The only person she has to talk to is Blake, a girl she barely knows since she and her dad moved back to town five seconds ago.

But that’s when Emily finds the list – her mum’s senior year summer bucket list – buried 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 over losing her connection to her mum. As she starts to feel closer to her mother, so too does Emily’s bond with Blake deepen into something she wasn’t expecting.

And 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.

Galley provided by publisher

The Lucky List is a very sweet romance, centering on Emily who, three years after losing her mother, is being somewhat obliged to move on by her father. Add onto this the fact that she’s just acrimoniously broken up with her boyfriend, and she finds herself stuck in something of a rut. Enter Blake, the daughter of her father’s best friend, who convinces her to complete the same bucket list her mother did years earlier.

This book is the kind of lesbian coming of age that I think is really important for younger readers. I can think of quite a few books I know with gay characters who struggle with the fact they’re gay. I can think of a lot of books with lesbian characters who know they’re lesbian and are out. There are much fewer I know that show the former, but for lesbians. But this is one of those. I think it’s very important to have LGBT lit that covers the full gamut of experiences. Yes, some people know straight away, and are comfortable with it. But we live in a homophobic society still, so it’s necessary to show firstly, that that’s not the only way, and secondly, that it’s just as valid not to feel that way.

Which I think is what this book does so well. You have Emily, desperate to make things work with her boyfriend, despite having called it off numerous times before now, because that’s what she assumes her mother would have wanted. It covers the pressures of heterosexuality, and the way it affects lesbians.

And then there was the romance. It was a slowburn, yes, but in the best way. Okay, so there was a third-act break-up of sorts which I wouldn’t usually like, but it made sense in terms of characterisation. And I think it was more of a turning point for the main character, the point where she finally thought she couldn’t continue like she had been. I also liked that it precipitated her apologising to her ex, for how she hurt him while she was closeted. I’ve read too many books where being closeted seems to be used as an excuse for being awful.

If there was one thing about this book I liked less — and this is really only because of a general pattern in YA lit — it’s in its refusal to use the word lesbian. Emily is happy to refer to herself as gay, as is Blake, but neither use the word that actually describes their pattern of attraction. But hey, you’re probably tired of me ranting about this, so I’ll leave it at that.

So if you’re looking for a summery romance, that’s a sweet and easy read, I would recommend you consider this.

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