The summer before senior year becomes a transformative period for Emily, who has withdrawn somewhat since her mother's death three years ago. While Kiera, her best friend, is away, a childhood friend named Blake returns from Hawaii and quickly bonds with Emily again. A beautiful surfer girl, Blake helps Emily overcome her fears as she tries to fulfill the recently discovered bucket list of challenges (get a tattoo, skinny-dip in the local pool after hours) that her mother set for herself at Emily's age. Though determined to win back her ex-boyfriend in order to please her BFF, Emily finds it increasingly difficult to deny her growing romantic attachment to Blake, who clearly returns her affection. The portrayal of Blake, a talented, sophisticated, down-to-earth surfer who befriends everyone she meets, would seem over the top, except that Emily is telling the story. The well-drawn small-town setting is alternately confining and reassuring for a 17-year-old who wants to be seen as herself, rather than the girl whose mother died. An involving novel of challenges, change, and growing self-awareness. Grades 8-10. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.Review by PW Annex Reviews
After three years of dating Matt, part of a tight-knit white friend group in rural Huckabee, Pa., 17-year-old Emily Clark unintentionally blows up "her entire social life" at junior prom, three weeks before the book begins. Now, with her Black best friend, Kiera, away at camp, Emily is single and friendless, having only memories of her mother, who died three years ago, to keep her company as she and her father prepare to sell her childhood home. All looks grim until her dad's best friend, Johnny Carter, returns to town with his half-white, half-Japanese daughter, Blake, who's also 17 and whose mother died after childbirth. Caught up in a renewed friendship and discoveries about her mother's past—particularly her summer-before-senior-year bucket list—Emily sets out to complete the list with Blake by her side, leading to a summer of self-discovery. Solid pacing, paired with Emily's accessible first-person perspective, keeps the pages turning. In her solo debut, Lippincott (All This Time) presents nuanced characterization and pays particular respect to the grief process, offering an affecting core to this sweet contemporary summer romance. Ages 12–up. Agent: Emily van Beek, Folio Literary Management. (June) Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly Annex.Review by School Library Journal Reviews
Gr 8 Up—Emily Carter hasn't been the same since her mom died three years ago. She's become anxious and afraid, and made a mess of her social life when she publicly kissed someone other than her boyfriend at junior prom. On top of it all, her best friend is away at camp and Emily and her dad are moving out of her childhood home. The summer is looking bleak, until her dad's best friend moves back to town, along with his daughter Blake. While packing up her mom's closet, Emily and Blake discover her mom's bucket list from the summer before her own senior year, containing items like "get a tattoo" and "get over my fear of heights." Emily sees completing the list as a way to connect to her mother, as well as fix her social life. With Blake's help, Emily may discover more about herself along the way. The first-person narrative subtly explores the interplay of Emily's grief, social pressures, and self-discovery in a quietly meaningful tone. The romance takes a backseat to Emily's coming-of-age but remains an important part of her story. Blake is slightly two-dimensional, but readers will nevertheless be rooting for the two to get together. Emily's race is never explicitly mentioned; Blake is noted as having a Japanese mother. VERDICT Reminiscent of Maureen Johnson's 13 Little Blue Envelopes and Jason Reynolds's The Boy in the Black Suit, this is a gentle and moving exploration of grief and what it can mean to move forward without a loved one, perfect for fans of romance and realistic fiction.—Aaren Tucker, Univ. of Illinois Copyright 2021 School Library Journal.
Rising high school senior Emily felt lucky until her mother's death, but now, with childhood friend Blake, she sets out to accomplish every exciting, scary, and intimidating task on her mother's bucket list.Review by Publisher Summary 2
Rachael Lippincott, coauthor of #1 New York Times bestseller Five Feet Apart, weaves a “breezy…truly charming” (Kirkus Reviews) love story about learning who you are, and who you love, when the person you’ve always shared yourself with is gone.Emily and her mom were always lucky. 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 her 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 Blake, the swoony new 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 pair 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 close to her 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.