37 Things I Love (in no particular order) by Kekla Magoon

37thingsiloveoldPublisher/Date:  Henry Holt and Co. (BYR), May 2012
Genre(s):  Young Adult
Pages:   224
Website:  http://www.keklamagoon.com

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Summertime is what most high school students look forward after a year of homework, teachers and exams. Ever walk down a school hallway after the final bell has rung on the last of day school? You might get mowed down.

For Ellis, though, the summer means spending more time with her friends, but most especially with her father, still in a coma after a work accident two years prior. She currently skips her first period class just to see him, though he can’t hear or notice she’s there. Her father’s condition is also a source of contention between Ellis and her mother, believing it’s time to take him off life support. Ellis knows he will wake up one day, and become the man she remembers, take her on new adventures, reassert himself as no. 1 of one of the 37 things in her life she loves.

Most of the 37 things – from goldfish crackers to warm chocolate chip cookies to rain on a stain-glass window – in some way remind her of her father or the void he leaves in her life.

One thing she loves, her best friend Abby, manages to distract her, whether it’s telling Ellis about her million and one boyfriends or sneaking her out to a party, which turns out to be one crazy night (it involves jello – that is all). Abby’s selfishness is a welcome distraction so she won’t have to think about how strained things are with her mother or the therapist she forces Ellis to see. But her shallowness slowly becomes the thing that makes them drift apart because Abby can’t relate to Ellis’ family woes. But one person can.

Cara. Both Abby and Ellis’ former best friend became estranged from them for reasons unknown to Ellis. Chalk it up to high school differences, but when her and Cara reconnect, Ellis discovers how much she missed their friendship; it gives her the warmth she needs to deal with her so-called life. Their connection also sparks something tenuous between them that Ellis isn’t sure she can handle right now, but doesn’t want to lose — even if it means giving up Abby.

37 Things I Love (in no particular order) is heart-wrenching, because as a daughter who’s lost her own father, I can empathize with Ellis. It’s tough to watch the man who seemed like the strongest man person in the world, wither away, and on that note, I got Ellis. But there were times I felt I didn’t get enough into Ellis’ head, and I wasn’t too keen on how Abby took advantage of Ellis and never offered much in return. In a lot of the book, Ellis is a pushover, the only real fight she shows is battling her mom to take her dad off life support. The brightest spot comes in Ellis possibly discovering love for the first time with Cara; it’s sincere and sweet. Magoon captures Ellis’ confusion well, and the end of 37 Things may find you caring for just one more thing.

Reviewed August 2013

About Kekla Magoon

Kekla Magoon is the author of four young adult novels: Camo Girl, 37 Things I Love, Fire in the Streets, and The Rock and the River, for which she received the ALA Coretta Scott King New Talent Award and an NAACP Image Award nomination. She also writes non-fiction on historical topics, including Today the World is Watching You: The Little Rock Nine and the Fight for School Integration 1957-58 and the forthcoming PANTHERS! The History and Legacy of the Black Panther Party in America. Raised in a biracial family in the Midwest, Kekla now teaches writing in New York City, conducts school and library visits nationwide, and serves on the board of VIDA: Women in Literary Arts. Kekla holds a B.A. in History from Northwestern University and an M.F.A. in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Visit her online at www.keklamagoon.com.


3 thoughts on “37 Things I Love (in no particular order) by Kekla Magoon

  1. Pingback: Link Round Up: August 29 – September 4 | The Lesbrary

  2. Thank you so much for writing this post, I was not aware of this author or her work. I immediately read her work and found her characters to be so dynamic with multidimensional lives plus her writing is very evocative with the ability to keep you engage from the first to the last word. Again, thanks for the review and it’s always nice to read another story about same gender loving people. Peace and blessings to you always, Charlotte.

  3. Does Ellis have a last name?? I have to do a project on the book and I wasn’t sure if she had a last name. If anyone can tell me please do! Thank you!

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