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Review: The Reece Malcolm List

February 4, 2013

Title: The Reece Malcolm List
Author: Amy Spalding
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Release Date: February 5, 2013
Format: eBook via Publisher

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?—via Goodreads

I loved this book.

It is Gilmore Girls meets Glee.

I hate that I just used Glee as the example because I stopped watching that show about two seasons ago because it got on my ever-loving nerves after about the first season and a half—we can all agree that the saving grace of that show was Darren Criss—but even his incredible charisma couldn’t keep me watching every week. But there really aren’t many shows/movies about high school performing arts programs other than, like, Fame and there was no porn in this, so I went with Glee. But this book isn’t like Glee other than the fact that the main character, Devan, goes to a performing arts high school.

Okay. I’ve probably babbled too much about Glee and you’re all, OMG JUST GET ON WITH IT.

The Reece Malcolm List is so charming. There are a lot of screwed up familial-type things that happen, but still! So charming!

The titular character, Reece Malcolm is maybe my favorite fictional mom outside of Lorelai Gilmore—she’s young, confused, has absolutely no idea how to really be a mother, but is somehow still great. I ADORED her even though she’s sometimes The Worst. And, really, this is the first time I’ve read a book where I identified more with the mom than with the teen, which is probably really telling you something about me. I’m sure a therapist would LOVE to get a hold of me.

But really. I loved Reece. I wanted to be her friend and hang out with her and her awesome boyfriend Brad. And also hang out with Devan and help her edit her papers for school or something.

Speaking of Devan, she is a supremely realistic teen character—she’s all kinds of mixed up in the best possible ways (I considered quoting that Taylor Swift song “22”, but figured I’ve already tried your patience with my rant about Glee.): brimming with hope and confidence, but also high-strung and second-guessing herself at every turn. She’s learning who she is and who her mother is and figuring out what she wants out of life. Though there were a couple places where I wanted to grab her and say, “JUST TALK TO PEOPLE. THEY LIKE YOU AND WILL LISTEN,” I totally understood her and insecurities and her hang-ups.

And let’s talk about the musical theater aspect of this book. I will admit, I was a teenager who did high school musicals.

Backstage at my high school’s production of Oklahoma!

But I was never a musical theater nerd. I’ve never been the kind of girl to buy original cast recordings of Broadway shows. Except Wicked when that first came out. And Big River when I auditioned for a community theater production of that show. Anyway, the show talked most about in this book— Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along—is a show I’ve never even heard of before reading this.

I know. I fail. But let’s look at it another way: Amy Spalding, author extraordinaire, did her research.

By using a not-super-widely-known musical, Spalding made Devan’s obsession with musical theater believable. Coupled with her complete knowledge about the history and ins-and-outs of theater, I really appreciated the research that went into Devan’s main hobby/career goal/school curriculum because there have been other books where characters were “obsessed” with something and it was evident that they weren’t. And that bothered me a whole bunch.

And now I’m getting weird and talking about characters like they’re real people.

Bottom line is this: The Reece Malcolm List is adorable and has a lot of emotional depth and you should read it because it is so so good. In fact, you should read it more than once. And buy it for someone. Perhaps for Valentine’s Day. Or President’s Day. Or Lincoln’s birthday. Or YAY IT ISN’T LEAP YEAR!

You get my point.

The Reece Malcolm List

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