Emily is still struggling to come to terms with her Mom’s death a few years before, this summer her loneliness is heightened due to a falling out with her friends and her best friend being away at summer camp. However, when her Dad’s school friend and daughter; Blake, move back to the small town of Huckabee Emily and Blake develop an almost instant friendship.
In the midst of Emily’s loneliness her dad has also put her house up for sale and has been slowly getting rid of a lot of things from the house. Emily is tasked with clearing out her Mom’s closet; but when Blake comes to help she can’t face sorting her clothes and instead boxes up all of her shoes and some boxes of random things. However, one box catches her attention, it’s a box of her mom’s high school things. Amongst the items is a summer bucket list of things her Mom challenged herself to do. When Blake suggests that Emily copies the list and does them herself a fun summer ensues.
Some of the list items are really easy; like having a picnic, where others take Emily completely out of her comfort zone; like getting a tattoo. However, she experiences the feeling of being close to her Mom which spurs her on.
I think books dealing with grief and how grief can change us are so important. It is quite easy to fall into the trap that everybody experiences grief in some way that we can become guilty of thinking of it as just one of those things. But when it happens to you it definitely isn’t one of those things and we all deal with it and experience it in totally different ways. Lippincott wrote a really insightful story not only about how Emily deals with grief but how it also impacts her and her relationships with those around her.
Don’t get me wrong it’s a YA book so it really just touches on the surface of these emotions but it’s a good way for younger people to acknowledge their own experiences or begin to understand those around them who maybe experiencing something similar.
As well as the theme of grief, Emily is also on a path of self-discovery after a period of minor self-destruction. It was a great insight into how some people identify their sexuality and the confusion it can cause.