cover image The Loose Ends List

The Loose Ends List

Carrie Firestone. Little, Brown, $17.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-316-38282-3

Maddie is eager to spend the summer before college completing her list of missed opportunities with her best friends until her wealthy grandmother delivers a bombshell. Dying of pancreatic cancer, Gram bids Maddie and family to take an eight-week cruise on The Wishwell, a “death-with-dignity” ship catering to its passengers’ last desires. Together with her parents, brother, sex-crazed cousin Janie, assorted aunts and uncles, and Gram’s boyfriend, Bob Johns, Maddie travels around the world collecting “snow globe moments” to cherish forever. Along the way, she falls in love with Enzo, a British college student headed to Egypt. Joyful shipboard scenes eventually give way to sadness as members choose their final moments. Afraid of death, Maddie must come to terms with the decision her grandmother and the other Wishwellians make. First-time author Firestone’s memorable characters offer powerful images of bodies betraying lively minds and spirits. While the often crass dialogue and narration can feel at odds with the overall emotional tone (“I can’t escape the horrifying visual of Gram’s bony body getting slammed by old Bob Johns”), the novel culminates in an embracing celebration of life. Ages 14–up. Agent: Sara Crowe, Harvey Klinger. (June)