Brief Background: Emily's best friend Sloane has, in a manner of speaking, abandoned her for the foreseeable future, and gone to places unknown. In her wake, she leaves a list of tasks for Emily to complete, from the benign to the ridiculous. Hoping that completion will lead her to her friend, Emily sets aside a summer of pursuing the list of challenges, and manages to completely change her life in the process.
What I Liked:
Concept: Fresh off reading Matson's other well known novel - Amy and Roger's Epic Detour, I was expecting the light, summery read that preceded this. I wasn't disappointed. It was fast paced, required little deep analysis, and (unlike its predecessor) captivating. I found myself finishing this book in under two days because not only was it extraordinarily easy to read, but it was also fun to read. It was a pleasingly detailed novel without the commitment, and I found myself never looking up to the page numbers to track how far through I was, because I was too busy being engrossed in the story.
Humour: Unlike Amy and Roger's, this book was more lighthearted. It didn't deal with the depths of grief (although, Emily has in some ways lost someone as well), and it had, inflected throughout the prose, little asides or phrases which actually made me laugh out loud. It may have been the eccentricity of Emily's family, and Frank's friend Collins which made me laugh the most. It added to the enjoyable nature of the book.
Romance: Not overbearing, and not the central impetus of the book, it was also far less intense and more natural than that in Amy and Rogers. There was no love triangle trope, nor the sudden-and-unexplained make out session-turn heartfelt relationship. This was a growth of feelings between two characters that felt organic - lovely yet awkward and not overdone. The touching on infidelity was also appropriately addressed.
What I Didn't Like:
Frank: It wasn't that I didn't like Frank as a character, because I didn't have any strong feelings towards him. It was more my discontent that Frank and Roger seemed to be the same person, and I really didn't have much of an affinity for a repeated character. It may have been because I was, at one stage, reading both books concurrently, but it made it all the more obvious that Frank and Roger were virtually twins. Both mild and nonabrasive, they both served the purpose of making the female protagonist look awkward and being there to nurture her character development. I think Frank could have been a lot more relate-able and personable if he'd been crafted as his own character without the need to make him Emily's assistant.
I really enjoyed this book, as it was light, fun and easy to read. It didn't give you much to dislike, mainly because it never really got beyond a superficial, summer novel in terms of themes, but if that's what you're looking for then this would be perfect.