The Loose Ends List by Carrie Firestone

3.5/5

Maddie Levine’s grandmother is dying and she’s planned an 8 week destination cruise with the family so she can go out in style. Diagnosed with aggressive pancreatic cancer, Astrid is not about to let that stop her from enjoying her last months on Earth. All aboard the Wishwell! This luxury liner is a secret death with dignity cruiser, so while the family will leave the Wishwell with two months worth of memories, Astrid will never be going home.

I really struggled with the first half of this book. One thing I liked right away was that Maddie immediately said yes to going on the cruise. When her grandma announced the plan, I thought I was going to have to endure chapters of Maddie moping and refusing to go. Thankfully, there was none of that. However, Maddie was incredibly judgmental and was so fucking immature. Being in her head, I constantly wanted to tear my hair out dealing with her and her death hang ups.

The savior of the story was Maddie’s relationship with her family. Throughout the cruise there are several ups and downs between the family. It felt very real, even if some of it made me cringe or roll my eyes. I really loved Astrid, she was hilarious and such a fun person all around. Going into this book, I had a feeling it would be sad, but man I was still not prepared for all the ugly crying I did at the end. It was seriously too much.

While this book tackles heavy themes of death and grief, it also celebrates friendship, family and living in the present. There were a lot of little things that bothered me, but overall, it was an enjoyable and hopeful read.

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