The Reece Malcolm List
Author: Amy Spalding
Things I know about Reece Malcolm:
1. She graduated from New York University.
2. She lives in or near Los Angeles.
3. Since her first novel was released, she’s been on the New York Times bestseller list every week.
4. She likes strong coffee and bourbon.
5. She’s my mother.
Devan knows very little about Reece Malcolm, until the day her father dies and she’s shipped off to live with the mother she’s never met. All she has is a list of notebook entries that doesn’t add up to much.
L.A. offers a whole new world to Devan—a performing arts school allows her to pursue her passion for show choir and musicals, a new circle of friends helps to draw her out of her shell, and an intriguing boy opens up possibilities for her first love.
But then the Reece Malcolm list gets a surprising new entry. Now that Devan is so close to having it all, can she handle the possibility of losing everything?
Published February 5th 2013.
And honestly, even if I might hate to admit it, I actually didn't think I would love it so much at the very beginning. But I really really did. So, there must be a reason why this book won me over so completely.
For one thing, in this instant, it may just sound like the typical "new girl in school" story and you might simply think that all there is to it are the overused elements of making friends, falling in love, dealing with the estranged mother...
But, trust me, there is so much more.
Because I mean it when I say that this story is one of the most developed and authentic contemporary novels that I've ever read. There is a generous array of characters, each fleshed-out and alive, with their own quirks and back stories. No one character stays the same throughout the novel, instead, their lives run parallel with that of the main protagonist's. Hence, there is an ever-present awareness that they are living, breathing teenagers who rule the story with equal flair and finesse as Devan, our heroine.
The title "The Reece Malcolm List" straight-away hints at the main focus of the story-- the titular character, Reece, who is a New York Times bestselling author and also the mother of Devan. Reece is one of the strangest, harshest but most charismatic mothers I've ever seen in a novel. She just leapt off the page with her awkward social skills, knack for offending people, tendency to curse, tactless choice of vocabulary and a sincerity that will move you. There is something delicious and deeply moving about the way she talks. It's blunt and strangely funny, brimming over with bottled-up emotions. And seeing Devan try to place her mother in her life is a wonderfully real experience-- awkward, stiff but with magical and heartbreaking moments.
Also, don't forget that the story is set in the glamorous L.A.! There is a thematic thread running through the novel about dreams and self-worth. For Devan, she is in awe of her mother's talent in writing; little by little, she gets more and more sure of her own capability and talent in singing. Much of the details in the novel are about musicals, in particular Merrily We Roll Along by Stephen Sondheim. Each step of the musical-making process is described from Devan's perspective-- from the auditions, casting, rehearsing to the actual performances. The descriptions are a job well done as I can almost hum the songs without knowing their actual tunes.
The New City School in this novel is one that is heavily geared towards the performing arts with various professional choirs and notable alumni. And as you see a group of teens do what they love and fight for their dreams and futures, you will unwittingly sink deeper and deeper into their lives. It's like the High School Musical experience all over again, just more vulnerable, more authentic, more energetic and more uplifting.
Their lives aren't extraordinary but they aren't exactly ordinary either. Yet, you never know what happens next, just like how it is in your own life when you can never anticipate the upcoming happenings. The romance in this book sure had my head spinning around, it's quite masterfully done!