18 Things, by Jamie Ayres; Curiosity Quills
Press: Reston, Virginia, 2012; $14.99
Jamie Ayres has written an inspiring story about overcoming grief. In 18 Things, teenager Olga Gay Worontzoff suffers through depression after her best friend since kindergarten is fatally struck by lightning on their sailing trip. Olga feels responsible for his death, and that lie leads her to swallow an entire bottle of pain pills. Her worried parents send her to counseling, where her therapist has her create a bucket list of eighteen quests to complete the year of her eighteenth birthday. Through Olga’s bucket list, she manages not only to grow as a person, but to help heal the grief stricken hearts of those around her. I loved reading this book because it truly shows that even when something bad happens, you can turn it into something amazing.
18 Things also inspired me to write my own bucket list. It showed me that life is a fragile thing, and it can end at any second. That’s why bucket lists are important, so that even if we do die, we’ll be happy with the life we lived. While Olga’s list only consisted of eighteen things, mine ended up being eighty-five things. After reading this novel, I realized there were so many items on the to-do list of my life I wanted to experience. Because of my list, I rode my first roller coaster, went ice skating and roller skating, climbed a rock wall, carved my name into a tree, competed in a mud run, sent a message in a bottle, learned to ride a bike, and so much more. I even took some things off Olga’s list, like watching a meteor shower, spent a day following what a Magic 8 Ball said, and started watching the one hundred greatest movies of all time.
I’m still working on completing my bucket list, but the experiences I’ve had so far have been out of this world. My bucket list helped me overcome my fears and accomplish things I never dreamed I was capable of. 18 Things was a wake-up call to me. Before reading this book, I was just living every day going through the motions. Now, I am truly living to the fullest, and I’ve learned to appreciate every minute of life. Not only has 18 Things affected my life, but the life of those around me. I’ve lent this book to nearly all my friends at my school, and they’ve loved the story, too. Every single one of them has rushed to make their bucket list after reading it.
The only thing I didn’t like about 18 Things was the ending, and not because the resolution wasn’t good. It just made me cry so hard! I couldn’t believe the author ended the story in such a way, not after everything that happened. Although I had my suspicions about the ending all along, when it struck like lightning, it was like a part of me died. I don’t know if the ending was necessary, but I’m confident the author will find a way to weave the plot twist perfectly into her next installments of the trilogy in more unexpected ways. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for Olga, Nate, and all my other favorite characters.
18 Things is my all-time favorite book, and I recommend the novel to readers of all ages who enjoy coming-of-age love stories with paranormal twists. If you do read 18 Things, be ready to laugh, cry, and have your whole world turned upside down.