The Loose Ends List

The Loose Ends List

by Carrie Firestone


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Now in paperback, the funny, "poignant and important" (Kirkus, starred review) novel about first loves, last wishes, and letting go.

Seventeen-year-old Maddie O'Neill Levine is primed to spend the perfect summer with her best friends and beloved young-at-heart grandmother. But Maddie's plans change when Gram announces that she is terminally ill and has booked the family on a secret "death with dignity" cruise to leave the world on her own terms-and give the O'Neill clan a trip of dreams come true in the process.

Soon, Maddie is on the trip of a lifetime with her over-the-top family where she bonds with other passengers and falls for Enzo, who is processing his own grief. But despite the laughter, glamorous destinations, and headiness of first love, Maddie knows she is on the brink of losing Gram. She struggles to find the strength to say goodbye in a whirlwind summer shaped by loss and love.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316382823
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date: 06/07/2016
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 7.80(h) x 1.40(d)
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

About the Author

Carrie Firestone is a former New York City high school teacher who now lives and writes in Connecticut.

Customer Reviews

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The Loose Ends List 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
SMParker More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. Like, LOVED. Seventeen-year-old Maddie has a crazy family. They are off-beat and wild and so lovable for their eccentricities. When Maddie’s Gram announces she has terminal cancer, she also announces that the entire family will be joining her on an 8-week “Death with Dignity” cruise. I didn’t expect to laugh as much as I did while reading this book. After all, Maddie has to seriously wrestle with the pain and confusion that stems from learning of her strong grandmother’s ailing health. And the cruise is to say good-bye to her grandmother, a woman she admires and loves beyond all others. The story is filled with hard choices and soft moments. There is this one part of the book called “The Gathering Wall” that basically split my heart open. This book asks us to consider what words we leave behind, what love we leave alive in our wake. How we deal with our regrets, and how we strive to live better. The story is beautifully executed and there is a swoonworthy boy, exotic locations and a flawed and adorable main character. This is a story of finding yourself, loving life and, ultimately, letting go. It is hilarious and sweet and clever and real. I received a copy of this book in advance for review and I’m so glad that I did!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Loose Ends is the best book I've ever read. I could read it again and again, I recomend it to everyone. I'm pretty sure you'll love it and make crazy faces like I did when things happen in this book.
Madison-s_Library More than 1 year ago
The Loose Ends List is unlike any other book I've ever read. It is hilarious, frank, crude, beautiful, honest and so emotional. I know that from reading the summary you can gather that you will need tissues, but seriously. Pack tissues! Maddie's family is slightly crazy. They are passionate, fight lots, openly talk about sex and drugs, and swear like troopers. And Maddie's grandmother is the craziest of the lot. She is Maddie's favourite person, her confidant and idol. So the news that Grandma Astrid is dying and has booked the whole family on a death with dignity cruise hits them all, especially Maddie, really hard. The writing in this book is fabulous. The story is crafted to draw you in, shock you and ultimately trap you within its web before you even know you are caught. This book not only discusses dying but euthanasia. This controversial topic is handled with humour and heart. Readers are presented with the argument for euthanasia through the view of the sick and dying, through those looking for dignity in their death, but we also see it through the view of the family who may not be ready to let go (though it's interesting that no one raises any arguments against euthanasia). These themes and the level of coarse language and sexual content make this a book for mature readers (to the point that some readers may find the extensive sex jokes and references offensive), but it remains a very topical book. Maddie at first comes across as a typically shallow, popular teenage girl. She is afraid of lots of things, from dying people to people who lick their fingers. She has IBS and likes to worry, so a death cruise isn't exactly her idea of a good time. At first, she doesn't cope well with the ill and dying people on the cruise. But as she gets to know these vibrant and colourful people they worm their way into her heart. She learns to see them in a new light, value them for their life stories and despite their mistakes. And for Maddie, the endings always come too soon. This is a story of death and grief, of living and loving, family, and one girl's grief. It's a book that readers will want to devour, dissect, and discuss. The publishers provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Lisa-LostInLiterature More than 1 year ago
I can imagine your thoughts after reading the synopsis were a bit like mine. I was thinking “Wow, this is a pretty morbid-sounding little book! I hope it’s not all about death.” Good news: it’s not! This story is soooo much more. Yes, the actual idea of the “death with dignity” cruise ship is quite sad, this story involved such a wonderful array of other strong points that made me fall in love with this story and these incredible characters. I can’t say that I instantly liked Maddie, but she did grow on me as the story progressed. In the beginning she comes off as pretty spoiled and completely naive when it comes to death and the loss of someone you care about. I feel this is a very common feeling among teenagers though, so I was able to look past it. (Not that her actions were acceptable or appropriate, but I think the were pretty realistic.) Maddie’s family was a group of characters, that’s for sure!! I adored Maddie’s grandmother, who was the star of the show. Her sense of humor and snarky, sarcastic and outgoing personality had me giggling quite a bit. She reminded me sooooo much of one of my great aunts. (I’m not even joking!) The stuff that came out of her mouth had me rolling. She was my favorite part of this story, by far. The romance was pretty cute as well. Though it was pretty close to the “insta-love” line, I don’t think it completely crossed it. I felt this was more of an instant attraction versus love, which I’m totally okay with. Maddie saw Enzo and was immediately attracted to him. I felt like Maddie and her cousin were using cute boys to distract themselves from the info they were just forced to accept… grandma was dying. Again, maybe not the way you or I would act, but I think it was a realistic response to a teenager trying to deal with illness and death the best way she can. The other characters in this story, mainly the other passengers on the cruise ship, were all so wonderful as well. It was honestly hard to read about Maddie getting close to these characters, only to lose them at one point of another. But I have to say, it’s life. This is how things go. And I appreciate the realistic situations that were thrown into this otherwise fun contemporary story. I have to admit, I think some may be turned off by the morbid, death situations mixed so closely with the humor and fun… but I honestly really liked the way the story was done. I felt Carrie Firestone took an all-together sad story and made it into something much more relatable for the younger reader. Overall, I really enjoyed this one! I have to mention the beginning started off a bit shaky for me. I didn’t think I would understand and buy into this whole “secret death cruise” thing. But as this story progressed and I saw that there was so much more to this story than just that, I was fully invested in all of it. My advice: give this book at least until the 25% mark before deciding anything conclusive. You just may be surprised with how the story plays out. This story actually hit pretty close to home for me. Though my grandmother wasn’t much like Maddie’s, I did lose her recently so I was able to relate with some of Maddie’s feelings toward her grandmother being ill. It’s not an easy thing for anyone to go through, especially a teenager. This is a story that I think will ring true for a lot of teenagers going through illnesses and deaths in their families, and I’m so happy that this story exists for teens today. Another wonderful debut read for 2016
elschneider More than 1 year ago
It's been a long time since a book had me sobbing uncontrollably. So many emotions, so much love for every character...I'm overwhelmed with how much I loved this story, but it's just not possible for me to put it into words right now. I will say, this is my top read for 2016 so far. Trust me, you want to add this to your TBR and order it now. I promise you won't be disappointed.
FME More than 1 year ago
I taught Intro. to Literature to college freshmen for many years.. I always began with an initiation rite, because the theme is universal and there is a wealth of "teachable" material in a well-written rite-of-passage story. Firestone's debut novel is a fresh, beautifully written look at a young woman's growth from self-absorbed innocence to a more mature understanding of the complexities of love, loss, and reconciliation. The Loose Ends List encompasses so much of the human experience. Firestone knows teenagers, with their furious picking at their split ends and their penchant for nicknaming others. She understands, too, the excitement of passion and romance and the devastation of the losses felt by the protagonist, young Maddie. The novel's power lies in juxtaposing the narrator's life and thoughts with her beloved Gram's on this cruise ship of the terminally ill. It would have been easy to miss the mark in this novel by portraying the dying as pathetic, while their loved ones watch helpless and horrified. Happily, Firestone finds the perfect balance between sadness and joy; grief and celebration. The novel shows us that there are always "snow globe moments." In the midst of all that is dark and terrible, we can all find "little sips of laughter and light. The Loose Ends List would be the perfect contemporary addition to my list of classic rite-of-passage stories like Lord of the Flies, John Dollar, The Bell Jar, The Color Purple, The Awakening. .