Full disclosure: I am friends with the author.
Full FULL disclosure: Reading The Reece Malcolm List by Amy Spalding was a very strange experience for me. For one thing, I do not personally know a lot of published authors. And I also do not personally know a lot of published authors that I met before they were published and/or consider my friends. I mean, Amy showed me around L.A. We had burgers together! I rode in her cute little VW Beetle! And we went to an awesome used bookstore! She sent my daughter an autographed copy of one of her (my daughter’s) favorite books because, you know, that author just happened to be doing a reading where she was!
So what I’m saying is: Amy is a cool person. Which made reading her book kind of scary for me. Because what if I didn’t like it? What if I started it and the book was not that great? WHAT THEN?
I don’t think I’ve ever worried so much about reading a book before.
Anyway, lucky me, the book is great. Great characters, great setting, great relationships. The dialogue is authentic and Spalding avoids many of the traps that so much contemporary fiction falls into. Yes, there’s a boy, but he doesn’t spark a great change in main character Devan or send her on a path to discovery. Yes, there are two boys, but it’s not a love triangle: it’s just high school. You know, you like a boy who maybe likes you but he’s dating somebody else so you start making out with the boy who’s there and showing interest. There’s no make or break do or die choice that changes everything. There’s just making out with and dating cute, available boys. (A choice that I can get behind, btw.)
The biggest compliment I can give this book, though, is that every time I opened it, I felt as if I were transported to a different place. The story takes place in L.A., which I have been to and know isn’t some magical superglossy locale. But the language of the book made me feel as though I were in a very special place that only these characters inhabited. That sort of rendered setting is like a breath of fresh air to me. There are few books I have read and few authors I know that have that ability.
And then, of course, there is Reece Malcolm. She is complicated and fierce. Like Devan, I am as enamored by her as I am terrified. Which in a story about a girl meeting and getting to know her long-lost mother is kind of a big deal. And it works.
Let’s not forget that the book’s major conceit is that Devan adds to a list of things she knows/learns about her mother. And I love lists. A lot. Probably more than is healthy.
So what I’m saying is the book worked for me.
I’ll spare you all the discussion of my stress about actually writing the review. Cripes.
In conclusion: I shouldn’t have worried about reading this book OR writing a review. It’s so delightful. As is its author.
(True story: my daughter asked me why I didn’t buy a copy, but the truth is that I requested my library buy a copy and they bought TWO copies, so it worked out even better. Plus also, I am going to buy a copy for my daughter who loves musical theater [like main character Devan] and, obvs, thinks Amy is the bees’ knees.)