Review: The Life List by Lori Nelson Spielman

Title: The Life List by Lori Nelson Spielman
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Imprint: Bantam Dell
Genre: Contemporary, Fiction
Length: 368 pages
Book Rating: A+ & A Recommended Read

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


In this utterly charming debut—perfect for fans of Cecelia Ahern’s P.S., I Love You and Allison Winn Scotch’s Time of My Life—one woman sets out to complete her old list of childhood goals, and finds that her lifelong dreams lead her down a path she never expects.

1. Go to Paris
2. Have a baby, maybe two
3. Fall in love

Brett Bohlinger seems to have it all: a plum job, a spacious loft, an irresistibly handsome boyfriend. All in all, a charmed life. That is, until her beloved mother passes away, leaving behind a will with one big stipulation: In order to receive her inheritance, Brett must first complete the life list of goals she’d written when she was a naïve girl of fourteen. Grief-stricken, Brett can barely make sense of her mother’s decision—her childhood dreams don’t resemble her ambitions at age thirty-four in the slightest. Some seem impossible. How can she possibly have a relationship with a father who died seven years ago? Other goals (Be an awesome teacher!) would require her to reinvent her entire future. As Brett reluctantly embarks on a perplexing journey in search of her adolescent dreams, one thing becomes clear. Sometimes life’s sweetest gifts can be found in the most unexpected places.

The Review:

Lori Nelson Spielman’s extraordinary debut, The Life List is an emotional and thought-provoking journey of self-discovery. It is an unforgettable reminder that it is never too late to follow our dreams even if those dreams seem unobtainable. This captivating story will inspire you to take a second look at your long forgotten and abandoned dreams and give you the courage to fulfill them.

Although devastated at her beloved mother’s passing, Brett Bohlinger is ready to step in her mother’s shoes as CEO of the family cosmetic business. At the reading of the will, Brett is stunned to discover that instead of inheriting the vast fortune and her mother’s position, she has one year to fulfill the remaining dreams on her teenage life list. As she checks off each goal, Brett receives a precious letter from her mother that contains wisdom, advice and startling insight that will forever change Brett’s life.

Hurt and angry by what she perceives as her mother’s lack of faith in her, Brett reluctantly begins to knock the goals off her life list. Some are easy to accomplish while others seem not only ridiculous but impossible to obtain. But as Brett begins to take each task more seriously, she begins to reflect on the true reason behind her mother’s stipulation and she is soon rethinking many of her decisions and priorities. Uncomfortably aware that she is compromising in very important areas in her life, Brett re-evaluates her life and is very surprised by she learns not only about herself, but her mother as well.

One of the most interesting things about The Life List is the sometimes unconventional ways Brett fulfills her goals. She discovers that her dream might be right for her, but that achieving it might mean taking a non-traditional approach. As she steps further and further out of her comfort zone, Brett’s growing dissatisfaction with her previously materialistic life sparks some unexpected decisions that prove to be emotionally rewarding and ultimately, life altering.

Brett’s character undergoes tremendous growth throughout the course of The Life List. In the beginning, she allows her fears to dictate her decisions and instead of taking a risk, she often makes the “safe” choice. Her lack of self-confidence drives her career decision and keeps her in a dysfunctional relationship. It is incredibly gratifying and uplifting when Brett takes control of her life and finds the happiness she so richly deserves.

The Life List is an incredibly heartfelt and moving novel. Lori Nelson Spielman easily captures the reader’s attention with her engaging writing style, incredibly well-developed characters and refreshing plot. The riveting storyline keeps the pages quickly turning in this captivating story about love, loss and healing.


Filed under Bantam Dell, Contemporary, Fiction, Lori Nelson Spielman, Random House Publishing Group, Rated A+, Recommended Read, Review, The Life List

3 Responses to Review: The Life List by Lori Nelson Spielman

  1. Timitra

    Thanks for the recommendation Kathy!

  2. Thank you so much, Kathy, for reading my novel and for your fabulous review. I’m so happy my story resonated with you. I can’t thank you enough for reviewing it here and on Goodreads.

    • Book Reviews & More by Kathy

      It was truly a pleasure, Ms. Spielman. I cannot emphasize enough how much I loved The Life List. Truly breathtaking.