The Reece Malcolm ListFeatured
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?
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.
What Left Me Wanting More:
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.
The Final Verdict:
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. ;)
The novel’s protagonist, Devan, is a theater/choir kid, which I thought was really cool. I loved how passionate she was about her hobbies and realistic about her talent. To be honest, that whole culture isn’t something I’m part of, so I was kind of looking into a whole new group of people, so that made things really interesting. In general, I thought The Reece Malcom List did a great job showing life in show choir, musicals, etc., and the group of friends Devan found for herself was really endearing, even though they had some difficulties (like any clique, I’m sure.)
And as a character, I liked Devan a lot. After her dad died, she gets shipped out to LA to live with the Pulitzer-winning mother she’s never met, who turns out to have an awesome boyfriend and an entire life of her own. Devan, naturally, feels a bit awkward in her new home, since it’s pretty clear that her mother isn’t jumping for joy over having her there. The mother-daughter relationship was pretty much the entire reason I wanted to read this book, and I’m very happy to report that Spalding completely sold the development and growth of Reece and Devan’s relationship throughout the book. It was honestly my favorite part of The Reece Malcolm List.
But like most YA books, there’s also a romance side of the plot, and I just…ew. Devan’s love interest (for a little bit there’s a love triangle but it was subtle and realistic and not-annoying)—anyway, her love interest just did not work for me. In my opinion, he needed to be roasted over a luau pit while Devan did her own thing instead of settling for that loser. I mean, I’m glad there were no declarations of love, and I honestly don’t see it being a lasting relationship, but that guy was pretty awful and immature and I didn’t like him. At all.
But aside from the relationship I didn’t buy into, this book was awesome. It was funny and charming in all the right places, and serious and touching in other spots. Amy Spalding did an awesome job with The Reece Malcolm List, and I’m really glad I got to read it. Seriously, this is a really great book.
Devan meeting her mother for the first time made me anxious about the future relationship they will have. As someone who is close with her mother, I really wished hard that this would all work out for them. There were a hints of longing on Devan and her mom but because of the unfamiliarity, they both welcomed these with uneasiness.
Devan was a character I can't see myself as to but definitely enjoyed reading. I understand her feelings, even her animosity towards her mother and father. She faced both situations at home and at school with her head high but with some doubts inside. I love how she's so into musicals and how passionate she is. She was also that loyal and trustworthy friend you'd definitely love to have around.
Reece was a puzzle to me at first. I keep wondering about her age at the beginning because she acts and talks younger that I've expected. She even dresses the way teenagers do. I love that she tries to make Devan feel that she loves her in subtle ways that doesn't go against her personality of being not showy. And based on Devan's stories, I really appreciated how she supports her daughter about her passion more than what her father did. I wish we got to know more about why he was like that to her though.
What others said about this book was definitely true. It was moving, heartbreaking but the good kind. It was half serious and not, and the author mixed both amazingly. This is the kind of books that makes you feel minus the depressing thoughts and tears.