The Next Thing on My List

Jill Smolinski, Author
Jill Smolinski, Author . Crown/Shaye Areheart $23 (288p) ISBN 978-0-307-35124-1
Reviewed on: 01/01/2007
Release date: 04/01/2007

Smolinski follows up her debut, Flip-Flopped , with an airy, hit and mostly miss novel about one rudderless woman's accidental journey of self-discovery. After a Weight Watchers meeting, narrator June Parker offers a ride home to newly svelte Marissa Jones, and the two hit it off until Marissa dies in a nasty one-car accident. When June runs into Marissa's hot brother at the cemetery six months after the crash, she makes a rash promise to carry out the dead girl's list of 20 things to do before she turned 25 (even though June is 34). The challenges that follow—running a 5K, kissing a stranger, "dare to go braless"—serve less to improve June's life than to highlight how unfortunate it is that she's taken up a stranger's goals instead of her own. Smolinski's Los Angeles is a well-executed set—June tilts at windmills as a writer for a ride-sharing nonprofit—but the most human characters in it are June's tyrannical and calculating boss and her secretly sensitive, underused brother. Though completing the list is a transformative experience for June, the leadup fizzles. (Apr. )

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