Review: The Reece Malcolm List

I received this book for free from YA Books Central in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Reece Malcolm ListThe Reece Malcolm List by Amy Spalding
Published by Entangled Teen on February 5, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: YA Books Central
Goodreads
four-half-stars

Things I know about Reece Malcolm:

1. She graduated from New York University.
2. She lives in or near Los Angeles.
3. Since her first novel was released, she’s been on the New York Times bestseller list every week.
4. She likes strong coffee and bourbon.
5. She’s my mother.

Devan knows very little about Reece Malcolm, until the day her father dies and she’s shipped off to live with the mother she’s never met. All she has is a list of notebook entries that doesn’t add up to much.

L.A. offers a whole new world to Devan—a performing arts school allows her to pursue her passion for show choir and musicals, a new circle of friends helps to draw her out of her shell, and an intriguing boy opens up possibilities for her first love.

But then the Reece Malcolm list gets a surprising new entry. Now that Devan is so close to having it all, can she handle the possibility of losing everything?

Review:
That moment when you’re super curious about a book but have pretty much no expectations, and it turns out to be completely awesome. I am living this moment. The Reece Malcolm List caught my eye with it’s kooky cover and blurb, but I really knew nothing about it. Turns out The Reece Malcolm List is a deliciously funny and honest book about family, boys, and musical theater.

Reece Malcolm is Devan’s Mitchell’s mother, and this, along with four other facts, equals the sum total of Devan’s knowledge about Reece. After her father’s death, Reece’s lawyer picks Devan up in St. Louis and flies with her to L.A., her new home. Every chapter opens with a continuation of Devan’s list of things she knows about her introverted, prickly mother. Their relationship forms the core of the story, much more important than the romance or Devan’s calling to perform in musicals.

Reece definitely probably will not be winning any mother of the year awards, but I really love her character. She does not act remotely like the stereotypical mom (either in the neglectful or involved sense), but, through her gruff exterior, you can see her attempts at affection. Being of an emotionally clumsy, somewhat taciturn disposition myself, I totally get Reece. She’s a very permissive parent, allowing Reece to go out and do pretty much whatever she wants, but very much a present one, as is Reece’s live-in boyfriend Brad. They have a lot of family dinners and shopping excursions, and she always knows what’s going on in Devan’s life. Plus, Reece probably wouldn’t do anything too objectionable anyway, so really deserves to be trusted with that freedom. I also love the fights that they have, because they were very much true to life, full of intentionally brutal comments that later result in regret.

Devan, too, delights me and, other than being somewhat reserved and highly talented, is very much unlike Reece. Except when it comes to music and acting, Devan worries and constantly apologizes for things. She bottles up her emotions, polite to everyone even when they’re rude, until she explodes and delivers a tirade. Devan’s narrative voice includes a lot of humor, teen angst, and passion. She also just feels a hundred percent like a real teenager.

All of the other characters are fantastic too, even some of the lesser characters like Mira receiving some real consideration. What I love best about this book is how honestly teen it feels. The relationship drama, while full of angst and a huge portion of Devan’s mental lanscape, does not come off as the most important aspect of her life. As much as she stresses thinks about boys, she does not act like her life will be ruined without a boy or like she’s in true love forever. Plus, all of the relationships in here feel so real, awkward, ill-defined, and messy. Despite that, Devan’s narration definitely keeps the book on the happier end of the contemporary scale, because her love of theater helps her maintain balance and perspective.

My only slight reservation deals with the writing style, which for the most part I love. The storytelling sounds completely like Reece, and really helps throw you into her head, so that is fantastic. The only questionable element is the use of strikethroughs to express Devan’s confusion about her emotions. They are a bit too cutesy, and I really think Spalding got Devan’s emotional state across perfectly well without that.

Amy Spalding’s debut sparkles with wit and characterization, and I highly recommend it! I will definitely be reading whatever she happens to write next, and really wouldn’t mind if it were more books about Devan. 😉

Favorite Quote:

“I spin my bracelet around on my wrist. ‘Sorry. It’s probably annoying I get nervous about everything.’
‘A little! Mostly I don’t get it. When you sing you’re this force of nature, all fearless and bad-ass. Then you switch off, and it’s weird. It’s like you really are in a musical, where you can only express yourself through song or whatever.'”

18 responses to “Review: The Reece Malcolm List”

  1. Ashley says:

    Thanks for this review. I hadn’t heard about this book before, but it’s really piqued my interest.

  2. Sunny Duvall says:

    Ahhhh, been wanting to read this! SO happy you like it, I look forward to it even more 🙂 Great review!

  3. Estelle says:

    Oh! So glad that you gave this one such high marks. 🙂 I’ve been looking forward to it too (due to the cover) but I’m glad to hear that the inside adds up.

  4. Lynn K. says:

    I have never seen/heard about this book before today and it’s been published since Feb 2012?? o.o

    This one’s definitely going onto my read-list. It’s refreshing to have a very much present parents and I’m in dire need of a book where the boy drama that doesn’t take up the protagonist’s life. Thanks for the review. 🙂

  5. I’m not sure how I feel about strike throughs, I mean on one hand cool concept, on the other gimmick.

    BUT I love that you say Reece isn’t the stereotypical mom – in that she isn’t neglectful or anything nor is she like a TV mom. I think it’s good for these books to show different sorts of parenting styles, because there isn’t one perfect way or anything.

    Also.

    I just really want to read this book ha ha. I hope they put it up on Netgalley or something.

    • Christina says:

      Yeah, I couldn’t really decide. Came across more as gimmicky. If it were in a diary format, that would make sense, but not so much in a narrative.

      Yes! I love Reece. She’s so my sort of person, with the grouchiness and the sarcasm and the largely unintentional mocking of people’s speech patterns.

      I hope so too!

  6. This one is HIGH on my want-to-read list. I went to author’s site a few months back and it was one of those cool ones that really make you want to read their book even more, you know? Plus I loved that she does stand up comedy because the most fun job I ever had was waiting tables and bartending at a comedy club when I was in college:)

    HOORAY for the family relationship taking center stage over the romance. AND for a teenage protagonist that doesn’t let boys control every aspect of her being. How refreshing.

    And I have read some really great books with theater/ acting themes lately and I’m liking the trend (The Trouble with Flirting being one that I loved:)

    I’m w/ April. Hope it makes it to NG soon.

    • Christina says:

      Ooh, I wonder what her site looks like! Maybe I will investigate;. Oooh, she does stand up? No wonder the book is funny!

      There’s such a fine line between spending a lot of time thinking about boys and spending ALL time thinking about boys. Having romance as one of the focuses makes sense, because that’s a big part of teenage life: crushing and/or first relationships. BUT teens also do other things and the instalove-y books tend to forget that. The heroine will be confronted by some life or death situation and she’s like “DOES BLAH REALLY LIKE ME?” and I’m all “Bitch, you’re about to be eaten by a T-Rex. The boy drama can effing wait!”

      Oooh, I really want to read The Trouble with Flirting. Well, hello, adaptation!

  7. Kat Balcombe says:

    I’d never ever pick this up based on the cover (waaaaaaaaaay to cutesy for me personally), but the blurb would definitely get my attention.

    The characterisation sounds great – I love when a character has flaws that makes them feel real.

  8. I am so excited for this one – it’s waiting on my kindle for me to get to it. Devan’s mother sounds great – I’m kind of tired of parents who only exist in the very periphery of the protagonist’s life. I mean, you don’t have to be controlling to be involved. And the boy thing – completely agree with the other commenters! There is so much more to life than boys.

    • Christina says:

      Yay! I hope you love it as much as I did. Reece is great, and so unlike any other mom I’ve read. 🙂

    • Ahh! I totally did. I thought the Devan-Sai-Elijah relationships were really interestingly handled, and again, quite different to a lot of what we see in YA. I think there so often tends to be this First Love = Love For All Time attitude (with interlude for Boy2 of the Required Love Triangle). Whereas that’s just not the way it is. (Usually – I’m sure there are some people who fall in love once and are then together forever). Like, one of my friends has had a number of boyfriends, and has felt pretty judged for it in our community, but each one of those relationships has taught her something more about what she wants and needs and deserves in life. Which has been so, so important for her. And I think it’s maybe similar to that for Devan and Elijah? Like, they’re nice together, but… no wildfire sparks. And sometimes you need wildfire as well as the niceness. Anyway, I liked that Spalding kind of explored that a bit. 🙂

    • Christina says:

      Oh wow! Thanks for coming back to share your findings. People usually don’t do that and it’s great to hear that you did love the book too. 🙂 Yes! I love that there is a love triangle of sorts but not really. It feels like real life, not checking a plot point off of a list.

      Ugh, that’s awful about your friend. There is nothing wrong with dating a lot of guys. People need to grow up.

      Devan and Elijah were sweet together, but their hearts just weren’t into it. At least they can still be friends after which is nice.

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