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The Loose Ends List

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LoveReading Says

LoveReading Says

July 2016 NewGen Debut of the Month.

In a Nutshell: Trip of a lifetime • Seize the day • Perfect endings

Always heartwarming, often laugh-out-loud hilarious, this is a sublime novel about living, loving and savouring every precious moment.

As Maddie plans her pre-college summer vacation, her wealthy, flamboyant grandmother, Gram, drops a bombshell. She doesn't have long to live and she’s taking the whole family on a cruise, but not “one of those tacky, eat-all-you-want buffet ships”, she explains. Rather, this is a voyage for the dying and their loved ones, during which the passenger-patients aboard the good ship Wishwell will choose their time to be sent to sleep. Maddie’s family is reeling with shock when Gram springs another surprise. The love of her life wasn’t the man she spent most of her life married to. That honour goes to Bob Johns, the joyous, dreadlocked jazz-loving Jamaican whom she couldn't marry in the “backwards-ass world of the 1940s”, and he’s coming with them. During the trip of a lifetime, Maddie becomes “ship sisters” with 32-year-old Paige, and falls madly in love, as they travel to places of Gram’s choosing where she ticks off items on her incredible loose ends list before her journey ends.

This remarkable debut is abundant in life lessons (live to the full, be fearless, be forgiving) but perhaps the most gorgeous message of all comes from Gram. “Take the pain and grow beauty”, she advises. Every bit as poignant on the subject of popping your clogs as it is on popping your cherry (a summary I reckon straight-talking Gram would approve of), this book will make you laugh, cry and emerge from its pages feeling monumentally uplifted.

Joanne Owen

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