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Review: The Reece Malcolm List by Amy Spalding

The Reece Malcolm List - Amy Spalding

Title: The Reece Malcolm List

Author: Amy Spalding

Publisher: Entangled

Publication Date: February 5, 2013

Series: N/A

Things I know about Reece Malcolm:

1. She graduated from New York University.
2. She lives in or near Los Angeles.
3. Since her first novel was released, she’s been on the New York Times bestseller list every week.
4. She likes strong coffee and bourbon.
5. She’s my mother.

Devan knows very little about Reece Malcolm, until the day her father dies and she’s shipped off to live with the mother she’s never met. All she has is a list of notebook entries that doesn’t add up to much.

L.A. offers a whole new world to Devan—a performing arts school allows her to pursue her passion for show choir and musicals, a new circle of friends helps to draw her out of her shell, and an intriguing boy opens up possibilities for her first love.

But then the Reece Malcolm list gets a surprising new entry. Now that Devan is so close to having it all, can she handle the possibility of losing everything?

I had no idea that I would love this book so much! Devan's voice is perfect. Seriously, perfect. It's so teenager, so authentic and lovable that I immediately gave her my full attention and didn't want to stop until her story was finished. She's an awesome character - a little insecure at times, but completely confident when it comes to singing. She's unsure of herself and of her place, but not in a self-pitying way. She is a little timid but also has a self-awareness about her that allows her to recognize when she needs to overcome it. I just love her.

And I love the other characters as well. Devan makes a handful of mostly great friends who each have their weird little flaws but who are also understanding and forgiving of each other. Of all of the secondary characters, I particularly adore Reece Malcolm (whose name I almost feel should be typed in all caps, since she's such a force in this story). She's superbly flawed but also amazing, and she is written wonderfully. Devan's mom can be an intimidating woman, particularly to Devan who has had no contact with her prior to moving in with her after her dad dies. It should be awkward, right? Except it isn't particularly awkward at all. A bit rocky at times, though, since neither one is great at being open about her feelings, and Devan is a bit sensitive when it comes to her mother. The exploration of their relationship is my absolute favorite thing about this story. It's such a strange little dynamic. Even sans all of the other stuff that happens, I would have kept reading this through the night just to get to the point where Devan and Reece finally understand each other, because I was wholly invested in them and really wanted that for them so badly.

That was the driving force of the book for me - the relationship development between Devan and her mother. But it's not just about a mother's and daughter's attempts (and failed attempts) at bonding. It's about friendships and first loves and kissing and music and theater. It's about finding those people with whom one is connected and that place in which one is comfortable, where Devan can be herself and be happy and know that she belongs in that place and with those people.

I was so surprised by just how much I adored this story. I expected something cute, and I got something wonderful. It has the perfect balance of emotions. Music and theater. Friendships and romances. An amazing mother-daughter story. And perhaps the most flawless ending I've read in a while. If you like contemporary realistic fiction, stories about finding one's place in the world, mother-daughter stories, show choir and musicals, get it.