I am so glad I read The Reece Malcolm List by Amy Spalding, not just because the twitterati said it was great and I try to fit it, but because it is a genuinely awesome book that really does encapsulate coming of age. Dude, how cliche do I sound there? Ha ha, but it is true though. I came into The Reece Malcolm List expecting a girl being sent to a mom she’s never met and lots of tumultuousness, but what I got was way more. And really — Spalding’s debut reminded me why I love young adult contemporary books so much, PLUS PLUS there was so much about it that reminded me of what it’s really actually like to be a teenager beyond being in love triangles and leading revolutions and whatnot. ALSO! This book was totally deserving of the Courtney Summers cover blurb, like you guys, for once it’s actually not a misleading blurb.
Devan has always moved all over the Midwest with her dad, who often felt like they needed a change and would pack up Devan and her stepmother to try living in a different town or city. Devan’s okay with this, she’s come to terms with being the perennial new girl.When her dad dies quite suddenly, Devan is sent to LA to live with her mother, Reece Malcolm. FYI Reece Malcolm is a famous kind of a big deal author and while that in itself is a big change, there’s also the fact that Devan has never spoken with or had any prior contact with her mother so in essence, she’s being sent to live with a stranger (and her awesome live in boyfriend). As Devan is used to being new it’s not a super huge deal for her, well besides the dead dad thing, but her narration makes it seem like she was kind of distant from her dad and stepmom Tracy. Anyways, living with Reece Malcolm has it’s advantages – including a baller new wardrobe and being enrolled in an amazing performing arts school. Essentially The Reece Malcolm List is all about Devan navigating her new life in LA, experiencing new romances and most importantly, forming a new relationship and bond with her mother after years of basically being strangers.
You would think Devan would be super emo and sad and mopey, but she’s actually quite awesome. Like this is a girl where, if I liked theater people, I’d probably be friends with her.She comes across as very real. She’s flawed, but not to the point where I was thinking she was a hot mess. Instead, she’s very much a real person, rough edges and all. I have to say, I didn’t really love all of Devan’s life choices, especially a few concerning her mother and their lack of communication, but she’s a teenager and honestly, teenagers do stupid things. Like I totally remember being a teenager and making awful life choices right and left. SO, despite me shaking my head going DEVAN COME ONNNN JUST SAY WHAT YOU MEAN AND WANT, I still liked her.
Obviously, this review of The Reece Malcolm List would blow if I didn’t mention THE REECE MALCOLM in her own paragraph. You guys, I want to be Reece Malcolm when I grow up. She is awesome. She doesn’t cook. She isn’t a fan of getting all dressed up. Also? She has this amazing work ethic when it comes to writing and her books. When I started the book, I was under the impression that Reece would be horrible and evil, because what kind of mom doesn’t contact her kid until said child is proverbially dropped on her door step? Turns out I was so totally wrong, and well, this book stars Reece almost as much as Devan. I just, I loved reading about Reece learning to be a mother and how she actually seems to be a much better parent than Devan’s dad and stepmom. I actually thought the relationship was very well done and it’s kind of like Reece comes of age too.
If you’re looking for a young adult contemporary book to approximate something similar to what you experienced in high school, maybe The Reece Malcolm List will come close. I mean, not all of us have famous people for parents. Nor, god willing, do we all experience the death of a parent while still a kid. However, I think plenty of you can relate to spending lots of time doing extracurriculars and making pretty decent friends with the other people who were into the same after school activity or hobby. I loved that singing and musical theater feature so prominently in The Reece Malcolm List. Like, I was in choir for many, many years. I also did the school musical a few times. Not that I was any good, I wasn’t. Devan, though, is actually an awesome performer and well, it’s nice to read about a character who is so talented, but also really works at honing her skills and craft. ALSO! Just because she’s in an extracurricular doesn’t mean that homework disappears. I loved that Amy Spalding showed Devan doing things like homework and studying without making it boring, instead it all just seemed authentic. I just have to put it out there that I never get why in YA books set during the school year the characters never seem to be doing homework. ANYWAYS.
There is definitely kissing in The Reece Malcolm List, not a ton, this isn’t entirely a kissing book, but there was enough to leave me satisfied. Let’s just say that Devan has multiple suitors, but the very best one is Sai. Sai is another new kid, also from the midwest. However, he’s going through a few of his own problems. Unfortunately for Devan, she’s firmly in the friend zone despite there being chemistry between the two. I have to say, expect swooning for multiple dudes, much like being a teenager. And also expect Devan to change her mind, she’s young thus not tied down to one guy. And then! AH! There’s a moment where we truly see her growth and it has to do with the romance and the kissing and it is fantastic.
Friends, I absolutely loved The Reece Malcolm List by Amy Spalding on multiple levels. It’s well-written. It’s funny. The main character has interests outside of herself and boys. Actually, I loved that this book was more than a romance — although I do like strictly romance books — but mainly about family relationships. I loved that people were illustrated with a touch of humanity, instead of you know totally quirky and perfect. I also loved that this book was so totally different from my expectations. Seriously, this was one awesome contemporary debut and I cannot wait to see what’s next for Amy Spalding. Likely something amazing.
Disclosure: Received for review via Netgalley
Other reviews of The Reece Malcolm List by Amy Spalding:
Makeshift Bookmark – “snappy and fresh with dialogue that hits all the right notes”
A Reader Of Fictions – “a deliciously funny and honest book about family, boys, and musical theater”
The Allure Of Books – “you have got to meet this girl for yourselves, y’all!”