The Loose Ends List by Carrie FirestoneThe Loose Ends List by Carrie Firestone

The Loose Ends List

byCarrie Firestone

Hardcover | June 7, 2016

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A refreshing, funny, and moving debut novel about first loves, last wishes, and letting go.
Seventeen-year-old Maddie O'Neill Levine lives a charmed life, and is primed to spend the perfect pre-college summer with her best friends and young-at-heart socialite grandmother (also Maddie's closest confidante), tying up high school loose ends. Maddie's plans change the instant Gram announces that she is terminally ill and has booked the family on a secret "death with dignity" cruise ship so that she can leave the world in her own unconventional way - and give the O'Neill clan an unforgettable summer of dreams-come-true in the process.
Soon, Maddie is on the trip of a lifetime with her over-the-top family. As they travel the globe, Maddie bonds with other passengers and falls for Enzo, who is processing his own grief. But despite the laughter, headiness of first love, and excitement of glamorous destinations, Maddie knows she is on the brink of losing Gram. She struggles to find the strength to say good-bye in a whirlwind summer shaped by love, loss, and the power of forgiveness.
Carrie Firestone is a former New York City high school teacher who now lives and writes in Connecticut.
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Title:The Loose Ends ListFormat:HardcoverDimensions:352 pages, 8.6 × 6 × 1.12 inPublished:June 7, 2016Publisher:Little, Brown Books for Young ReadersLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0316382825

ISBN - 13:9780316382823

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Yes. One of my favourite books I've ever read. Highly recommend. Also made me cry a little not gonna lie. Weird, but amazing and heartbreaking, and I loved every bit.
Date published: 2017-08-10
Rated 2 out of 5 by from If you're already reading keep reading At first glance <i>The Loose Ends List</i> by Carrie Firestone seems like it will be a fun and summer filled novel. The bright yellows and pinks of the cover solidify this idea. Though the cover does not give up much about the novel, the description on the back helps to even further engrain the idea of this novel as a fun and summery book. The gist of <i>The Loose Ends List</i> is this, <blockquote>Maddie O'Neil Levine is set to spend her last summer before university with her friends, but when her grandmother Astrid announces that she is dying of cancer her plans quickly change. Astrid has arranged a summer long trip for the entire O'Neil family, though it comes with a bit of the twists. Maddie's summer is full of firsts and lasts that will change the way she views life forever. </blockquote> This description shows the reader that yes the novel is going to have some sad parts, but in the end it is going to be a book about a teenage girl and her final summer. These two things, the cover and the description were what caused me to pick up Carrie Firestone's novel, something I regretted when I first started reading. <i>The Loose Ends List</i> did not live up to my expectations at all. This is the reason I only gave the novel two stars. I had very high expectations for this novel to be a great summer hit, but it fell short with immature writing and unrelatable and obscure characters. The thing that bothered me the most about The Loose Ends List was the writing. Right from the beginning of the novel I knew that something was very different from other books I had read. The main teenage girls of the novel Maddie, Janie and the E's, Maddie's friend group, speak in a way that I have only ever heard preteen girls talk. Maybe this wasn't what the author had intended and she believed that teenage girls truly do sound like this, but as a teenage girl I can tell you that I have never heard another girl yell out 'ew', and I have most definitely not seen a well written author write it out. In the end the writing got a bit better and the actual story near the end made up for it, but I could not get over the beginning of the novel and so it only got 2 stars from me. The one other thing that really irked me about <i>The Loose Ends List</i> was the characters. The main character Maddie was your 'typical' bratty teenager with a few close friends who she didn't even seem to like. When Maddie's grandmother announced she was dying Maddie was understandably upset, her favourite person in her family was dying, but then when her grandmother talks about how she wanted to go on the cruise with the whole family Maddie starts to think about how she isn't going to get her summer with her friends. I suppose this is normal behaviour but it really just hit me the wrong way and made me detest Maddie even more. The other character that I could not stand was the grandmother Astrid North O'Neil. I'll start off by saying I do not know how your grandmother acts, but most grandmothers I have met do not act like Astrid. The first instance I can remember off the top of my head when Astrid did something abnormal was when she grabbed Maddie's breast and said something about how they were small. This scene made me so uncomfortable I had to physically put down my book and take a dew deep breaths. No grandmother I have ever met would just randomly grab their granddaughter's breast, it was uncalled for and just plain weird. Through out the rest of the novel Astrid often talks about her grandchildren's sex life and other such topics I still believe were slightly inappropriate, maybe I'm just a prude, but I know there are people who would agree with me. <i>The Loose Ends List</i> looked like a good book in the beginning before opening it and after closing it I was glad I finished it as the ending was rather fulfilling. If I had one piece of advice for a person who is thinking of picking up this book it would be, don't, but if you have already started to read Carrie Firestone's novel finish it. To get through this book you need to focus on some of the empowering and thought provoking quotes as well as what the characters call 'snow globe moments' those times that you feel the world is just in a glass dome on it's own. Try and ignore the characters and the writing and focus on those snow globe moments. <blockquote> <i> It's from searing pain that the deepest beauty can sprout.  -Astrid North O'Neil </i> </blockquote>
Date published: 2017-07-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Review from This is the Story of My(Reading) Life Death is something I, thankfully, do not have a lot of experience with. I have not lost anyone close to me. I've been to funerals and have seen friends and family grieve. But for me, it's that emotion and thing I don't know how to handle very well. I'm awkward as hell and will probably be the asshole that laughs because I don't know what to with myself in this situation. In that way, I totally connected with and understood Maddie. Although she's more afraid of death. Maddie pretty much wants to pretend it doesn't happen. Which you know is kind of hard when her Grandmother books the family of what is essentially a death cruise. I think The Loose Ends List is going to be hit or miss for readers. Not only is death a very prominent subject throughout the story, it's also a book full of ridiculous characters and dark humour. Which the latter two or totally my things. And the whole death and dying thing is not as depressing as it could have been. There were tears and emotions, but I felt like Carrie Firestone kept it as light as possible and more about living life to the fullest. It's all about firsts and lasts. I liked that the focus wasn't the romance between Maddie and Enzo(even though I enjoyed their romance, their connection and where their relationship went) but on the family. And the O'Neil clan is an interesting bunch. There seem to be no boundaries between them, uncle, brother, parents, Gram, cousin; everyone's in each others business. Maddie will pretend she's put out by it, but in that's a lie, she loves how close they are in all their weirdness. Gram is the star of the show. What a women. She doesn't take any shit, she's hilarious and worldly, with stories from a full life. If nothing else, reading The Loose Ends List and meeting Gram was so worth it. Add in all the other guests on the ship, who are all full of personalities and stories Maddie comes to love too. This is a book for the character driven reader. The Loose Ends List is funny and emotional, with that spark of something different. I cannot wait to see what Firestone comes up with next.
Date published: 2017-07-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Weirder Than Initially Expected Cover designs these days are actually pure gold. I'm no artist, but I am absolutely in love with everything that has do with books and art put together. Honestly, with all of the amazing aesthetics out there these days, who would not want to read this gorgeous book with THAT COVER? No one would not want to read this, most likely. I must say that Carrie Firestone's debut is no way as beautiful as the cover is. I feel tricked, but I guess that's what happens when one judges a book by its cover. At the same time, I would label The Loose Ends List as a bronze-medalled story instead of the gold that its cover promises. This is an interesting take on bucket lists, except it's not really about death pertaining to the protagonist, but to her grandmother. Firestone shows so much creativity in this story, but it surely didn't end up a five star read. I love the originality, setting, and the many themes that come out of the story, especially in the sad ending that definitely sparked some tears in some readers. The Loose Ends List is narrated by a snobby, rich girl who keeps expecting more than she already has. She is so unoriginal that I just expected her to not be the designated driver and to drink all of her worries away. That would be your typical contemporary teenage romance. Thankfully, the partying thing was out of question, but Maddie seemed to complain about everything else. Especially the traveling aspect of the Wishwell, the cruise ship that she and her family were exploring the world on. I would do just about anything to attend the Wishwell and travel to exotic places like Rio, Venice, Rome and the imaginary Wishwell Island on, but Maddie seemed like she dreaded all of the traveling part, but just kept looking for opportunities to hook up with her "love at first sight" interest, Enzo, who she basically sees on the first day of her trip. I think I need to stop ranting about Maddie as a whole or else I would probably end up rating this a little lower than I initially had. 3.5 stars suits this book because other than the fact that I thought that Maddie was a complete brat for most of the novel (besides the parts where she got intimate with her grandmother and family), everything else was swell. I enjoyed reading about the Wishwell itself and the concept of it, although that even sounded so absurd that I don't think anyone would take the cruise's goal into consideration and make it real in reality. Wondering what the absurdity is? The Wishwell is basically a death trip. People who are dying with terminal illnesses go on this cruise with their families, and after exploring the world and going to different destinations, they decide that it's time to let go, if you know what I mean in a casual way. "I watch her lips move and wonder what the cancer looks like inside her. It is a dream. I will wake up and she will be fine" (24). And that's basically what happened with Maddie's grandmother. As mentioned above, their family is filthy rich, living lives in New York City and Connecticut, and one day, out of the blue, Maddie's Gram announces that she has pancreatic cancer. There is mixed reactions, including some hysterical bawling, some straight faces, some passing out, but everyone has the same thoughts: what will they do without Gram? She decides that the whole family will go on the Wishwell and enjoy her last moments with her. In the midst of it, Maddie falls in love with Enzo... obviously. I adored Enzo and Maddie together. It seemed that when they had their scenes together, Enzo completed her and made her a better person than readers initially knew her as—see my snob rant above. And I also loved the reason why he was on the Wishwell and how that all mixed in with Maddie's family and other close friends who they meet on the ship. The best thing? The huge group of family members and people that the O'Neill/Levines got to hang out with on the ship. Firestone rapidly introduces all of the family members to us within the first few chapters, and then a huge group of people who they will hang out with on the ship afterwards. I kind of began singing "We Are Family" by the end because I felt so physically attached to them. Heheh. The Loose Ends List was honestly so easy to read. Firestone is such a casual writer, but a smart one at the same time. She created a story that just screams "teenagers" and "grief" and all of those themes/motifs that would make you sob. I didn't sob, because I guess I was just strong the day I read this, but it seemed right if one ended up bawling on the pages. IT'S SO SAD. Maddie had to let go of some people who were very dear in her heart, but I felt the same way in the end. See above: physical attachment. (I also was very attached to Enzo, but that's a different story. *giggles like a little girl*) The Loose Ends List is seriously a lovely summer read. I brought it with me when I went on vacation, but sadly never got to it, though began it right after and it carried that mood that makes me just want to hop on a cruise and travel the world, once again. It has a definite catchy synopsis and concept that has never been written about before, and I am very curious to see what else Firestone has in mind (she is such a creative author) with her future stories. I would certainly read them all, if they stay contemporary-romance. I don't even want to imagine what absurdity she would create with fantasy. *A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for a honest review. Thank you so much!*
Date published: 2017-01-24
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Review from Giselle at Book Nerd Canada An Advance Reader Copy was provided by the publisher for review. Quotes pulled from the ARC may be incorrect and may be subject to change. Maddie's grandmother has a deadly cancer, so her last wish is to take the entire family on a cruise ship where she can celebrate her life. Maddie's family is living life to the fullest. Jet setting around the world, travelling from the ship to different countries, hiking in volcanoes, swimming in hot springs, eating gelato in Rome, the adventures are endless. But we all know there's going to be an ending, and Maddie herself isn't prepared to say good-bye to her beloved grandmother. Why would you say this to someone? WHY? head desk "Maybe you should try exercising once in your life." I had a bit of a problem with Maddie's bratty personality that I thought would change. What really bothered me was her view on other cultures foods. I don't like how condescending she is when she turns her nose at the Taiwan night market. Just because it's not food she likes doesn't mean it's not good. She clearly has something against Asian food.. "…pastries stuffed with bean paste (the worst dessert ever). They use the word Oriental which is not politically correct. I wished the author would do a little bit more research and be more accountable and respectful to other cultures. Her family isn't like any family I've read before. They swear at each other, talk openly about their private lives and know everything about their business. But I guess that's what makes them different. It was funny at times, but honestly I don't think the humour needed to be there since the drama was all there. I also had no idea why all these side characters were thrown in.. I liked that they had a bit of exposure, but I also thought it detracted attention from Maddie's story. Unless you count Maddie learning form every single one of these new people. I also thought that their romance was quick.. Two months and it's already I love yous? But okay I went with it.. I loved her family for they're a little kooky in their own way. I don't know how others will find the controversial method of having a cruise ship where people go to end their life, but if there was a thing, I'm sure there will be backlash. Don't be fooled by the cutesy cover for there are some heavy and depressing scenes to read. The writing is decent, but I found myself growing bored because some scenes would drag on and on and there was too many characters, I kept forgetting who was who and who was sick etc. I did love reading about the families adventures all over the world, and wished they did more. Travelling is a dream! Pick this one if you're looking for a huge focus on family relationships.. I did grow teary-eyes at certain parts, but that's because I love that her grandmother was just so positive.
Date published: 2016-09-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Review from This is the Story of My(Reading) Life Death is something I, thankfully, do not have a lot of experience with. I have not lost anyone close to me. I've been to funerals and have seen friends and family grieve. But for me, it's that emotion and thing I don't know how to handle very well. I'm awkward as hell and will probably be the asshole that laughs because I don't know what to with myself in this situation. In that way, I totally connected with and understood Maddie. Although she's more afraid of death. Maddie pretty much wants to pretend it doesn't happen. Which you know is kind of hard when her Grandmother books the family of what is essentially a death cruise. I think The Loose Ends List is going to be hit or miss for readers. Not only is death a very prominent subject throughout the story, it's also a book full of ridiculous characters and dark humour. Which the latter two or totally my things. And the whole death and dying thing is not as depressing as it could have been. There were tears and emotions, but I felt like Carrie Firestone kept it as light as possible and more about living life to the fullest. It's all about firsts and lasts. I liked that the focus wasn't the romance between Maddie and Enzo(even though I enjoyed their romance, their connection and where their relationship went) but on the family. And the O'Neil clan is an interesting bunch. There seem to be no boundaries between them, uncle, brother, parents, Gram, cousin; everyone's in each others business. Maddie will pretend she's put out by it, but in that's a lie, she loves how close they are in all their weirdness. Gram is the star of the show. What a women. She doesn't take any shit, she's hilarious and worldly, with stories from a full life. If nothing else, reading The Loose Ends List and meeting Gram was so worth it. Add in all the other guests on the ship, who are all full of personalities and stories Maddie comes to love too. This is a book for the character driven reader. The Loose Ends List is funny and emotional, with that spark of something different. I cannot wait to see what Firestone comes up with next.
Date published: 2016-06-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Heartbreakingly Impactful Read (with some humour on the side) I had some confused thoughts while reading The Loose Ends List. I wholly loved the idea of this book but the tone of the story in the first half didn't exactly suggest I take the issues at hand seriously. However, the second half of the book hit me hard and had me bawling. My eyes were leaking on its own (literally). The Loose Ends List made me laugh which was unexpected (with that synopsis). The jokes were funny but some came off as insensitive and sometimes even offensive. The sarcastic nature made me a little uncomfortable but I kind of get that that's reality. It's honest in a way that we know these people exist and people do think along those lines so why try to pass it off as anything but what it is? From the first moment I met Maddie I was surprised. She wasn't what I expected for sure. Maddie is rich and with that you get these cliché thoughts of hers that were rude and snobby. I wasn't a fan of hers until I saw how much she loved her family. The story showed me she was capable of caring for others and that redeemed her in my eyes. Some of her thoughts and actions made her kind and endearing. Her romance with Enzo was adorable but also bittersweet. He is totally her Bob Johns! I very much loved the relationships depicted between the characters especially with Maddie's family. It was the strongest thing going in this book for me. Maddie was very close with her family (with the exception of a few for good reasons). Each had their share of flaws and problems but nothing too severe that couldn't be worked through. Then there are the Wishwellians who have become such a tight-knit group through their journey on the waters together. The joy, the grief and the sorrow will forever tie them to each other. With the last third of this book my emotions were switched on high. What Maddie had with her grandma was so special. I loved every moment of their time together. On a personal note, I'm close with both my grandparents. It was devastating when I didn't get a chance to say goodbye to my grandfather. I would do anything to have had that chance (just a little bit more time with him) so I wouldn't hesitate if this chance came into my life. Even though some of the characters and the tone of this book bothered me at first, The Loose Ends List won me over by the end. I cannot emphasize enough how much I wish the premise of this book was real. I would make the most of the opportunity and always treasure the sweet sorrow.
Date published: 2016-06-10

Editorial Reviews

"A sweet story of a young girl growing and learning about the depths that exist in everyone...Maddie is an accessible and relatable character."
-VOYA,