37 Things I Love (In No Particular Order) by Kekla Magoon. October 15, 2013 (originally published May 22, 2012). Square Fish. 240 pages. Ages 13 & up.
Ellis is approaching the end of her sophomore year, but unlike her classmates, her thoughts do not revolve around making fun summer plans. Instead, Ellis has spent the past two years dealing with her father being in a permanent vegetative state following a fall at a construction site, and now she is reeling at her mother's suggestion that it is time to remove life support and let him go.
Ellis finds herself unable to talk about what is going on with her two best friends, the pretty, popular, and self-absorbed Abby, and the sometimes too loyal Collin, who is besotted with Abby and lets her take advantage of him. Ellis is growing more and more disgusted by Abby's selfish, insensitive, and sometimes downright mean, behavior and with Collin for putting up with her abuse and letting her use him. As she begins to distance herself from Collin and Abby, she begins to renew her friendship with Cara, a childhood friend she and Abby had seemingly just drifted away from.
As Ellis' relationships with Abby, Collin, and Cara change and she struggles to accept her father's death, she turns to Cara for comfort more and more, and discovers the real reason their friendship was interrupted.
To be honest, I can't quite decide what I think of this coming of age story, or whether I liked it or not. In some ways, the writing and dialog are really good, but in other ways parts of the story just didn't seem to be integrated smoothly and there really wasn't any resolution to much of the conflict.
I found Abby to be a very unlikeable character, and I really would like to have seen Ellis and Collin finally get fed up with her crap and be done with her. I can't believe how much they put up with from her. Then adding in Cara turning out to be gay and Ellis suddenly becoming sexually confused, just seem to muddle things, especially since nothing was really resolved. The book just stopped. Did Abby and Cara manage to remain civil so Ellis wouldn't have to choose between them? Or did Ellis and Collin finally tell Abby to take a hike? Are Ellis and Cara friends, or girlfriends? I like books to have more of an ending than that. I felt there was no real closure.
The other thing that annoyed me a bit, though certainly no fault of the book or it's author, is that I read it because I thought it was a recent book by the author of our community read this year, How It Went Down, which I enjoyed and found very powerful, because it was labeled as a "New" book. But as it turns out, it was only newly purchased, having actually been publish 4 years ago.
I would recommend this book to teens interested in coming of age stories, particularly those interested in difficult and changing friendships, and interested in or open to LGBTQ storylines.
Other Books By This Author
Kekla Magoon is the author of several young adult novels, including the award-winning The Rock and the River and the above-mentioned How It Went Down, as well as non-fiction books on social issues and historical subjects that interest her.