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?
(Summary from GoodReads)
As you’ve all figured out by now, I am willing to give most YA contemporary novels a shot, especially if it’s possible that romance will be involved. The Reece Malcolm List caught my attention when April and Kelly both gave it incredibly positive reviews. It’s obvious why Spalding’s novel has gotten rave reviews—Devan’s voice is incredibly authentic. While I found this book a bit too long and lacking in plot, reading it was an enjoyable experience.
Devan’s put in an awkward situation in the beginning of the book: she’s meeting the parent she’s never met after losing one and starting at a new school where there’s a lot of competition surrounding the performing arts. In addition to adjusting to a new family, she’s also meeting new peers and teachers, and there are love interests. Between the musical, the boys, and her mother, it wasn’t clear which was supposed to be the dominant plotline. A lot of little things happened throughout the book, and it lessened the impact of what was supposed to be the major conflict. However, Spalding did a nice job of completing each storyline without it feeling like she was tying things a neat bow.
This book focuses a lot on what Devan is feeling. Does the boy she likes care for her as well? Is she totally getting in the way of her mother and her boyfriend? Do her new friends really like her? She’s confident about herself and her talents as a performer, but has a lot of uncertainty about her relationships. A lot of teen and adult readers will relate to this aspect of the book.
The performance aspect of this book is fairly serious. Spalding drops the names of a lot of musicals, and readers who don’t care for theater might be a little bored by it. Devan is the type of musician who has potential to make it into a career. I connected with her throughout much of the story, but I think there are other authors who have done a better job of writing about the experience of being a performer.
Despite its heavy premise, The Reece Malcolm List is a book that I found enjoyable and even fun, at times. I loved reading a character whose emotions felt deeply familiar and relatable. While I still have minor qualms about the quality of this one, it’d be the perfect read to pass on to a teen who loves musical theater.