The Loose Ends List

352p. ebook available. Little, Brown. Jun. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780316382823.
Gr 9 Up—Maddie O'Neill Levine and her grandmother, Astrid North O'Neill, are best friends. That is, until her Gram announces to her family that she has terminal cancer and has arranged for one last trip, a secret "death with dignity" cruise on the Wishwell. Maddie had planned to hang with her friends by the lake all summer, but instead her family drops everything for one last trip with their dying Gram. They embark on a voyage of discovery that serves as a catalyst to discuss death, dying, and grief, where the cousins, especially Maddie, are forced to grow up. The trip starts with Maddie's immediate O'Neill family, but by the end "the Wishwellian" ship becomes a family brought together by death. The characters on the ship are relatable, endearing, and lovable. Filled with equal amounts of laugh- and tear-inducing moments, this debut novel will be impossible to put down. Fans of Jenny Downham's Before I Die or Jonathan Tropper's This Is Where I Leave You will enjoy this unique story about dying on one's own terms. Mentions of drinking, drugs, and sex make this title appropriate for older readers.
VERDICT With its fresh, original plot and thought-provoking themes, this title will have a high teen appeal.

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