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The Next Thing on My List    by Jill Smolinski order for
Next Thing on My List
by Jill Smolinski
Order:  USA  Can
Shaye Areheart, 2007 (2007)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Daninhirsch

This snappy novel may start off on a morbid note, but it's all uphill from there. Thirty-four year old June Parker is a writer for a Los Angeles rideshare company. Nothing exciting is happening in her life - she has had the same job and same apartment for years.

After a Weight Watchers meeting, she gives a lift to a young woman named Marissa who just lost a hundred pounds. They are in an accident, and unfortunately, Marissa dies. Although the accident wasn't technically her fault, June is wracked with guilt. In the wreckage, she finds a list written by Marissa with the title: 20 things to do before my 25th birthday. Determined to redeem Marissa's life in some way, June takes it upon herself to complete all the items on the list so that Marissa wouldn't have died in vain.

Hilarious adventures ensue from here. Some of the items are as innocuous as Get a massage, Eat ice cream in public and Watch a sunrise. Others, however, pose much more of a challenge for June - such as Get on TV, Make Buddy Fitch pay, and the seemingly impossible Change someone's life

In the course of the year it takes her to go through Marissa's list, June begins to adopt it as her own. What begins as a guilt-induced project becomes a means for June to jumpstart her life into gear. By book's end, June has grown into the person she never knew she could be.

Smolinski's writing is fast-paced, witty and chock full of self-deprecating humor. June is quite a likeable character; you will find yourself cheering for her as she embarks on a year-long journey of self-discovery. Along with your sunscreen, be sure to take this book to the beach with you over the summer.

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