review: 37 Things I love (in no particular order)

“All in all, 37 Things I Love (In No Particular Order) is a rich novel sure to draw emotion from the hardest of hearts and to inspire those struggling with similar issues to live with the greatest strength.” ~Teen Voices

title: 37 things I love (in no particular order)

author: Kekla Magoon

date: Henry Holt and Company, May 2012

main character: Ellis Baldwin

I was pretty well through the book before I caught on to what the title means and by then, the story was about to take on a whole new meaning.

I think Magoon tells us about Ellis through the things she loves because Ellis is experiencing a pretty tough time and if we didn’t see her softer side, we might not like her so much. Ellis’ father is in a coma and she and her mother have never been able to deal with his condition, individually or collectively. Together, they don’t talk. They communicate through warm chocolate chip cookies and the music they choose to play, but they can’t directly talk to one another. On her own, Ellis is faltering.

Of course, Ellis turns to her friends at this time. She’s been friends with Colin and Abby forever but, is Abby really her friend? When we’re facing one trauma, we really don’t want to add to it when we don’t have to. We need our friends, regardless.

In telling us about the 37 things that Ellis loves, Magoon writes a story about why we all need love, why we need friends and family and the many ways we express love to one another while going through our pain, joy, grief and day to day life.

This is one of the few books I’ve read that has felt as much MG as YA, I think the appeal is just that wide. Magoon is at her best. While the story is not predictable, everything naturally fits inside the story. It never feels contrived or forced. Magoon’s skillful use of language and dialog reminded me just a bit of John Green, but Magoon’s characters felt more approachable.