Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Release Day Review of Once Upon A List by Robin Gold

Please Note: I read the ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of this book, therefore, there may be some discrepancies between what I quote and the final version. Assume any and all errors are mine because they probably are.

"In the blink of an eye, her entire universe had shattered, instantly becoming an inconceivable memory. BAM! In one second. Just like that...gone."

Nine days before her wedding, Clara received a phone call that no one would ever wish to receive. Her fiance, the love of her life, the man she'd planned to spend the rest of her life with had died in a tragic accident. The shock, pain, and grief of it all overwhelmed her. While she attempted to overcome it, eventually it took hold, and like Snow White after she'd bit into the poison apple, or Sleeping Beauty after she'd pricked her finger on a spinning wheel, Clara Black succumbed to a perpetual state of sleep. Some likened her to a zombie, one of the walking dead.

Then, one day, just like in the fairy tales, she awoke. She once again had a purpose and all it took was a single kiss. A kiss that she had written down once upon a list...

This was such a heart wrenching, yet cute story. It may have started out rather sad, but I loved watching Clara figuratively come back to life after such a tragic loss. Sometimes grief strikes so hard, it sends us tailspinning into a whirlpool of dark emotions that can suck us down and can be difficult to break free from. While life goes on, as Clara later realizes, "sometimes it's just too damn painful and difficult--if not impossible to recognize it."  

I loved the list that Clara created when she was nine and the significance it held. Clara had lost her father at an early age. At nine, she believed that 35, the age her father was when he died, was when life ended, or perhaps more specifically, when she thought hers would end too. So when asked to create a list of things she'd like to accomplish in her lifetime, she revised it, with the teachers permission, to be a list of things she wished to accomplish before she turned 35. The list along with other significant items from when she was nine, all went into a time capsule. Clara was 34 and had less than eight months to complete her list when she was reunited with it. Ironically, the list of things that were originally meant to be accomplish before she died became a list of things she needed to complete before she could figuratively come back to life. It was her virtual life line. Such a fun idea. I wish one of my teachers had done the same thing with my class. I wonder what I would have included on it?  

Leo, Clara's brother, was a fun character. With Ms. Gold emphasizing the fact he's one of Chicago's most eligible bachelors, I have a sneaking suspicion he'll be popping up in one of her later novels. I loved the strong bond the two siblings share, and how over the years he kind of took on the role of father figure for her. Always being the protective older brother. It made him quite endearing. 

Link, well, I wish we'd gotten to know him a little better. I didn't really connect with him, but I sort of figured he'd be the one Clara ended up with. I think my problem was that I wasn't 100 percent sure he and Clara would end up together because for the majority of the book he was in a relationship with someone else. I just wish we'd have had more time seeing the two as a couple. I definitely felt the two got along well, but I would have liked to have seen a little more of the dynamics of their romantic relationship. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one gets a BLUSH rating--at the beginning stages of romance where something is just starting to be stirred.

Overall, I gave this one 3 1/2 out of 5 roses. A very sweet story that I felt did an excellent job depicting Clara's journey through the grieving process. Thankfully, we didn't see the full seven stages because an eight month period was skipped. I think Ms. Gold did an excellent job of showing us just the right amount so we could understand how tragic a loss it was for Clara, thereby, allowing us to empathize with her. The book contained a lot of cute and fun elements and a nice blend of drama and humor. 

Notes to keep you in the know:
The seven stages of grief are:
1) Shock & Denial
2) Pain & Guilt
3) Anger & Bargain
4) Depression, Reflection & Loneliness
5) The Upward Turn
6) Reconstruction & Working Through
7) Acceptance & Hope

The above list of stages was found at recover-from-grief.  To learn more, visit their website at: http://www.recover-from-grief.com/7-stages-of-grief.html

Silly Side note:
When I was little my mom told me whenever I was at a friends house I was to eat whatever their parents served. One of the most memorable meals was a grilled muenster cheese sandwich. That was one of the most horrible sandwiches I ever ate. My friend and her siblings wouldn't touch one of those darn sandwiches and I was the single eater of them. My mom, after hearing what had happened, actually renounced her previous rule and I never again had to abide by that rule or suffer through eating another grilled muenster cheese sandwich again. Why do I bring this up? I shuddered a bit at the mention of a grilled muenster and American cheese sandwich that Clara's brother, Leo made. I can't imagine adding American cheese could mask the taste of that (in my humble opinion) horrible cheese, but who knows??? One thing is for sure, I'll let someone else be the judge of that one. 

Pictures of Chicago:
Water Tower--I never thought about it when I lived in the Chicago area, but it does kind of resemble a gingerbread house:
Sue, Chicago's Field Museum's T-Rex:
Trip to Las Vegas:
Noah's Ark in the Wisconsin Dells:
Photos found on Photobucket.

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