The Reece Malcolm List: review

February 19, 2013 2013, 4.5 star books, amy spalding, anna and the french kiss, realistic fiction, tonya 50 ★★★★★

The Reece Malcolm List: reviewThe Reece Malcolm List by Amy Spalding
Published by Entangled Teen on February 5, 2013
Genres: contemporary
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
AmazonIndieboundBarnes & NobleGoodreads
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?
Things I know About The Reece Malcolm List:
  1. It will make you laugh.
  2. If you are at all into musical theatre, it will make you sing. If you’re not into it, it’ll probably give you the urge to check it out.
  3. It will make you want to go to LA (even if you live in Southern California, and hate the traffic, like me).
  4. It will make you a little giddy.
  5. It will make you cry. (But mostly in the happy way.)

This might be my favorite read of 2013, so far. I went in with zero expectations, but finished with cheeks that ached and were sporting a few tear trickles.

Devan grew up in St. Louis with her dad and stepmother, knowing absolutely nothing of her mother–not even her name. It wasn’t until she happened upon one of her mother’s books with the dedication made out to her, that she began to suspect. And research.

When her dad dies unexpectedly and she’s shipped off to LA to live with her stranger of a mother, she knows exactly five things: 

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.

Things with Devan and Reece are awkward at first. Reece has no idea how to be a mom, and Devan has no idea how to relate to her famous, and a little abrasive mother. The only bright spot is her mother figuring out she’s into musical theatre, and enrolling her in a fancy performing arts high school.

Which is pretty big for her. She’s always had a natural talent and affinity for performing, but going to school with other kids just as passionate as she is is a new for her. She’s used to being part of a small niche of geeks on campus–but now her entire school is made up of people just like her.

And she’s one of the best.

She expects to be treated with jealousy and bitterness for being the talented new kid, but instead finds she has friends almost immediately–another first for her. As is the fact that the seriously beautiful (and yet seriously nice) Sai, a fellow new kid, even talks to her, let alone pursues her friendship.

While she finds her place in school, she and Reece begin to find their place together as well. Devan soon finds herself comfortable, if not on her way to actual happiness.

Until she learns something about her mother that could break the tenuous bonds they’ve begun to forge.

I really loved the relationships Amy Spalding created here. Devan isn’t the damaged, angry mourner I expected. She’s a lot awkward, and a little self-involved, both of which I found refreshingly accurate for a sixteen year old. And Reece may be a thirty-two year old famous author, but she’s almost as clueless as her daughter. She isn’t the absent, negligent parent we see in most YAs–she’s just not really sure how to go about being a mom. But she’s trying, and I liked watching them dance around one another until they found their rhythm.

I loved the musical theatre focus, and can see it appealing to fans of Glee, even if they aren’t into theater. And although I think some may be turned off by Devan’s voice, as it’s very teenage girl, I found it endearing and authentic. (But maybe that’s just because I live in Southern California and have never quite outgrown the Valley Girl in me.) 

“Knowing they’re in, like, True Love is a weird thing to comprehend. I feel a weird surge of happiness for them, along with a lame zap of jealousy that I could have made it to sixteen without any boys even wanting to kiss me.

Also, ugh, really? Dad is dead and my long-lost mother would have totally preferred to stay long-lost, and I’m feeling sorry for myself about boys?”

Devan has the voice, and the wants / fears / dreams of a normal sixteen year old, but doesn’t come across superficial or vapid. Just real.

I found The Reece Malcolm List very reminiscent of Anna and the French Kiss in some ways, which is about the highest praise I can give a contemporary YA. It’s not as swoony as Anna, as the main focus isn’t on the romance (though the romance is there, and it is swoony), but it left me with the same giddy, happy feeling as Anna did.

Which is pretty much my favorite way to end a book.

The Reece Malcolm List is Amy Spalding’s debut novel, and will be followed up this December with Ink is Thicker Than Water, which sounds equally fun.

This review also appears on GoodReads. An advance copy was provided by the publisher.

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50 Responses to “The Reece Malcolm List: review”

  1. Alexa Y.

    Seriously, this book sounds FANTASTIC. I’ve been seeing wonderful reviews for it popping up all over the place. What I’m super excited about is the fact that there’s theater and performing arts involved!

  2. Ash

    Wow, you’ve got my interest, looks like a great, great read. the cover is very pretty too.

  3. Claire Kim

    Wow! This sounds really good. I’ll be sure to check it out soon!

    And I’m right with ya in the whole “teenager talk”–the type of speech used can never interfere with the plot. I mean, 1984 and newspeak and all that stuff doesn’t detract from the overall classic-ness of the story.

  4. Mariya

    What a refreshing thing it is to see a book about an average normal teenage girl that wants to get to know her mother better and do good at her new school and meet new friends. We need more books like this because I am getting pretty tired of crazy dramatic love triangle paranormal romance books. I want something normal now! Great review Wendy!


    I just finished this one the other day and your review was spot on! At times Devan’s voice bugged me but then I thought of myself at 16 and it was like we could have been twins in the whole thought process department. Great review!

  6. Barbara E.

    The Reece Malcolm List sounds like a wonderful book, I’m so glad I read your review because I hadn’t heard of it before this.

  7. Alyssa Susanna

    Wow, you really like this book! I have actually never heard of it, or of its author. Sounds kind of interesting though – lots of lists? I am not in the show choir of my high school, but I do enjoy the arts!
    Great review!

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

  8. Jess Hearts Books!

    This has been receiving so much lovely lately that I’m really going to have to get myself a copy! Your review has me excited to check this book out!

  9. Lauren @ Love is not a triangle

    That IS a really big comparison! I will definitely add this one to my list. I can’t sing at all but I sure wish I could. I did get accepted to a performing arts high school – for drama and dance, though I moved states before I could attend. Hopefully this book will help me relive the glory that I never had. HA! Great review.

    • tonya

      Oh, that must have been devastating for you! I loved my time in show choir in high school, and in fact Reece Malcolm felt so authentic I actually cried because I missed it so much.

      I hope you find it as nostalgic as I did. :)

  10. Vivien

    Well, this is a glowing recommendation. This just made my TBR list. If it’s like Anna then I know it’ll be great. I just adored that book and this genre.

    • tonya

      I’m so glad! I hope you enjoy as much as I did–even if it’s not exactly as swoony as Anna was. I just found the voice and the plot completely refreshing.

    • tonya

      Yay! I believe Amy Spalding has a background in musical theatre, so it was definitely written with us in mind. ;) I hope you love!

  11. Sunny Duvall

    I canNOT wait to read this one! Devan really does sound refreshing because from your review, she doesn’t like the typical YA 16 year old and I like that. I like how she’s not all self-pity. Everything sounds amazing. Love your review!

    Sunny @ Blue Sky Bookshelf

    • tonya

      She definitely wasn’t self-pitying; more self-deprecating than anything else, which I could definitely relate to, haha. I hope you enjoy!

  12. Sara @ Forever 17 Books

    So I admittedly have heard nothing about this book until last week but it has been getting great reviews! The dynamic of the mother and daughter relationship sounds really refreshing and like something I would enjoy to read. And I LOVED Anna and the French Kiss so if it gave you that giddy feeling, I must check it out. Great review! :)

    • tonya

      I hope you like as much as I did! I feel like I should give the disclaimer that you shouldn’t go in expected the same level of swoon / romantic focus as ANNA, but the overall voice and destination feel definitely felt familiar. And yes, it left me giddy and happy.

  13. Jennifer Messerschmidt

    This caught my eyes but you have definitely put in on my radar. Sounds like a very interesting way to develop a mother/daughter relationship. Only a few clues and then she must live with her mom and learn to be a daughter and have a mother. I like the musical theatre focus as well.

    • tonya

      It was a very interesting dynamic, one I’d never read before. I so appreciated that it wasn’t the deadbeat / neglectful parent scenario that we often find in YA. And the musical theatre focus was the icing on the cake for me.

      I hope you enjoy it!

  14. readingdate

    I loved this book, so glad you did too, Tanya! As a fellow SoCal gal the setting and the voice resonated with me, and I think your ANNA comparison is spot on. You just make me want to read it again!

    • tonya

      I’m so glad you felt the same about it! Even being from Southern California, it had the destination feel to it. Made me want to brave the traffic and go spend the day in LA.

    • tonya

      Yay! I’m glad I could be the first to introduce it to you. I hope you’re able to read soon. :)

  15. Candace

    Oh wow. I really wanted to read this before, but now I REALLY want to read this! Especially anything at all comparable to Anna. Definitely going to have to read this one!

  16. Bookworm1858

    I really want to read this book-all the theater references I’ve heard about it make me imagine this is just the book for me.

    • tonya

      I think you’ll LOVE it in that case. It totally brought me back to HS show choir, and had me crying at the end because I miss it so much. I hope you enjoy as much as I did!

  17. Keertana

    I originally was not drawn to this one, but a comparison to Anna? I’m sold! I can’t wait to read this now!(:

    • tonya

      I just have to warn people that it’s definitely not as swoony / romantically focused as Anna is. I just think the overall feel is very similar. I hope you enjoy! :)

  18. starryeyedjen

    I just bought this! I passed it up for review, but then I kept seeing all these really gushy reviews, including yours, and I knew I couldn’t miss out again. I’m hoping to start it this weekend, but with that high praise (the giddy & happy feeling after Anna…I WANT THAT!), I may not be able to wait. Great review!!!

    • tonya

      I hope you start soon! I just fell in love with all the characters, and the added bonus of musicals didn’t hurt either.

  19. LisaFicTalk

    I’ve seen mixed reviews for this one, but because you mentioned that this was very reminiscent to Anna means that I will now be giving it a chance. At first I thought that maybe it would have been too young for me but now I see that I should really give it a chance.

    Great revice, Tonya!

    • tonya

      I think its “youth” is on par with Anna, the voices were similar to me. But if the passage I quoted grates on you, you might not be able to enjoy as much as I did.

  20. April (BooksandWine)

    I absolutely love the comparison to Anna And The French Kiss — I mean, the two books are totally different in plot, but I loved that both spoke authentically to the experience of being a teen (granted I never went to boarding school nor do I have a famous parent), but a few things are universal like crushes, school and boys (or girls) and The Reece Malcolm List nails that.

    • tonya

      Totally agree. And they both have the destination feel to them as well. Granted, I live in Southern California, but it still gave me the urge to brave traffic and go spend the day in LA.

  21. Mary @ BookSwarm

    Ohmigosh! This sounds fantastic! I have it on my Kindle…waiting. Think it’s going to get read TODAY!! I *will* find the time. Saying it similar to ANNA makes me want to read it even more. Love this kind of book. :)

  22. Tabitha

    Your review had me – I was already setting out to buy it on Amazon. BUT THEN you said It was reminiscent of Anna. YEAH. That made me buy this book.

    Fantastic review! I cannot wait to read this one. (:

    • tonya

      Yay! I’m so glad I convinced you. I don’t want people going in expecting the same level of swoon as ANNA, but the destination feel is there, and the voice is reminiscent. I hope you love as much as I did. :)

  23. Amy

    This sounds like a book I would really like. I love musical theater, and I love fun romantic contemporary books!! Great review!!