Review: The Next Thing On My List by Jill Smolinski

June Parker is an ordinary person who doesn’t strive for much.  At 34 she is a writer for LA Rideshare with an obnoxious boss and a relationship that’s hanging on by a thread.  When Marissa, an acquaintance and passenger in June’s car, dies in a freak accident, June finds a list Marissa made of 20 things she wanted to accomplish before her 25th birthday.  While visiting Marissa’s grave, June meets Marissa’s brother and comes up with an idea- with 18 tasks left to complete and just months before the deadline, she decides to finish the list in Marissa’s memory.

The accident occurs before the book begins, so the events and details of Marissa’s death are minimized, making this a surprisingly lighthearted and charming story.  June feels bad about the accident, of course, but she isn’t suffering from depression or saddled with crushing guilt, perhaps because she barely knew Marissa and the accident was not her fault. 

Initially it doesn’t seem possible that the underachieving June will finish the list by the deadline, but we root for her as she checks off each entry, from simple things like “Throw away the bathroom scale” to active things like “Run a 5K” to more meaningful goals such as “Change someone’s life”.  As she gets closer to completion, her own life undergoes a transformation.  She begins to take risks and soon becomes empowered, gaining respect at work and in her personal life. 

I was charmed by The Next Thing On My List.  There’s plenty of humor and a great story that makes you contemplate things you’d like to accomplish in your own life.  Breezy and fun, it’s the perfect choice for summer reading.  Book clubs will enjoy writing their own life lists and sharing them with each other, which is exactly what my book club did tonight!

Here are some thoughts from other people in my book club:

From Maggie:  I really liked this book.  I found myself laughing out loud and found this to be an easy read.  I have actually loaned it to one of my co-workers. What I like about the book was here is a person who believes that she is living an ordinary life doing ordinary things then when challenged with a list realizes that she is someone who is and can do extraordinary things.  An extraordinary person can be defined in many different ways depending on people’s perceptions. And most of all it was a fun read – great story line – and the story just flowed and made me want to keep reading.  

From Diane:  On a scale of 1-5 (5 being best), I give this book a 4.5.  It was fun and different.  I didn’t want to put it down, because I wanted to read what was going to happen next.  I was delightfully surprised that the author chose to surprise the reader with the endings for the adoption and June’s love interest – at least it kept me guessing – and for finding the mysterious Buddy Finch.  A fun, light read that I would recommend to a friend.  A good poolside/summer read. 

From Orchid:  The Next Thing On My List was a light and fun read.  It’s exactly what I needed to take my mind off of work and stress. The idea of June having to complete someone else’s goals was a very clever spin. I tried to imagine myself completing someone else’s list. June is completing this list for Marissa who died in the car accident etc. (she had met her at a Weight Watchers meeting, not a close friend or relative-?????). I could not understand why June was convinced that she was responsible for Marissa’s death. This part did not make any sense to me.  I was never fully convinced that anyone would try so hard to complete someone else’s list. Nevertheless, I was completely entertained by June’s little adventures as she tried to accomplish everything on the list by Marissa’s 25th Birthday.

You can find author Jill Smolinski’s website HERE.  It includes tips on how to make your own life list!

Jill’s Life List Blog is HERE  

Read my interview with Jill Smolinski and leave a comment by May 15th for a chance to win a copy of The Next Thing on My List!