37 Things I Love

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

Since her father’s accident, Ellis and her mother have carefully orchestrated their lives to avoid any serious conversation.  Ellis saves all of that for her dad.  But when the time comes to make a major decision about his future, Ellis finds herself re-examining all of her relationships, from her mother to her friends.

Always on the fringe of the popular crowd due to her best friend Abby, Ellis finds herself more and more aware of Abby’s shortcomings.  She’s also torn between anger and pity as her dear friend Colin continues to be under Abby’s spell.  But with her world turned upside down, Ellis reencounters and reconnects with Cara, who was once was one of her closest friends.  Unlike Abby, Cara seems to have time and energy to focus outside herself and Ellis desperately needs friends who can be there for her.  It’s just that hanging out with Cara takes a sudden turn that Ellis wasn’t expecting.

Far more focused on family and friendship than on romance, 37 Things I Love managed to find the balance between the difficulty of having a parent on life support with the normal drama filled life of a teenager.  A slim 216 pages, I was left wanting more.  I wanted a better vision of how the friendships would move forward.  I wanted more of the romantic plot that had started and then came to an abrupt halt.  I just wanted more.  That’s not a bad thing, it’s really a complement!  I just wasn’t quite ready to leave these characters!

Age Recommendation: This is probably best for high school students although some middle school readers might enjoy it as well.  Parents should be aware of the drinking that goes on in the book, but it is in no way glamorized.  People who drink too much suffer from hangovers and embarrassment, which is probably what normal teenage drinkers can expect anyway.

Sex, Nudity, Dating – The physiques of several boys are discussed.  Teens stare at breasts.  A couple makes out. A teen kisses someone’s cheek.  A teen cannot remember what sexual things she did while drunk.  She has hickeys on her chest.  Two girls hold hands.  One sucks the other’s nipple.  This is not done with consent or after any discussion of feelings. The contact was not expected nor encouraged.
Profanity – “fucked”, “damn”, “God”, “shit”, “darn”, “asshole”, “bitch”, someone flips people off, “fucking”,  “jackass”, “jerk”,
Death, Violence and Gore – A teen grabs a teen’s breast and pretends it was an accident.  It was not. He does not remove his hand.  A teen stuffs her bra with jello and is found out.  She is harassed for this.  A teen’s parent dies.
Drugs, Alcohol and Smoking – Teens drink wine. A party involves kegs of beer, the reasons teens drink are briefly mentioned.  There is peer pressure regarding drinking.  Some teens smoke.
Frightening or Intense Things – Ellis has recurring nightmares about falling, possibly related to her father’s bad fall.  Her father is on life support and has been for years.  As the book opens, her mother is contemplating taking him off.

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