A bucket list, as Mia Kerrick allows her characters to remind us, is something one makes before they die. Often we hear about terminally ill patients creating a bucket list of things they want to achieve before they pass. So why would an author take three healthy teenagers and create their story around such a list? Well, when you look more closely at the amazing characters this talented author has created and what they are facing in their near future, the whole concept makes sense. While The Weekend Bucket List may be a novel that revolves around the lives of three teens, I am fairly certain there are a whole wealth of takeaway lessons for ages of all kinds in this story. Aside from a kiss or two and some understandable raging teenage hormones, there is no sex in this book—and frankly I didn’t miss it at all. In fact, I would go as far to say that the power of this novel lies in the relationships it examines and in the love that friendships can bring into our lives and, as the story points out, that is the strongest type of bond and love that one can experience.
Cady and Cooper are about to graduate high school and enter the last summer they will be physically close to one another due to heading off to different colleges in the fall. They are not cool kids; in fact, they are rather nerdy, having concentrated on good grades and each other for their high school years rather than being a part of the “in crowd.” As a result, they haven’t really done much of anything one would class as rebellious or risky—until now. The bucket list is actually Cady’s idea. The one they will complete the weekend before their graduation—the one that includes things like running naked on a beach and getting tattoos and, yes, their first kiss.
The fact that Cooper is still struggling with his sexuality—unsure if he is gay, straight, or somewhere in between, is a real piece to the first kiss item. You see, Cady and Cooper are best friends and more than once, both of them, unbeknownst to the other, has considered what it might be like to date each other. But fear of losing what they have, that deep abiding friendship, has always held them back. So, the idea of that first kiss being with each other holds a great deal of weight for both of them. For Cooper, it will determine if he is indeed bisexual; for Cady, it will solidify the growing feelings she has had for her best buddy. But fear is a powerful thing and it can tear apart the strongest bonds if given free reign. When the two pick up another teen working the carnival route, little do they know that beautiful Eli is about to change the course of their lives irrevocably. The final item on this bucket list should be a question as to whether or not the friendship that Cady and Cooper have forged over many years will survive and if there is room for a third in their tight circle.
The brilliance of this novel lay in the everyman’s journey feeling it gives to the reader. I am a woman in her late fifties and yet I walked away from this story with more than one little gem to examine and apply to my own life. Anyone who can recall their high school years can relate to Cooper and Cady. Anyone who has found themselves being attracted to a close friend and wondering what it might be like to pursue a relationship beyond friendship will see pieces of themselves in this story. But most importantly, those of us who have felt a friendship crumble or a close friend slip away will understand the pain that these teens are going through and root for them to pick up the pieces of their shattered friendship before it’s too late. Throw the incredibly sensitive and wise Eli into this mix and you have three amazing characters who will take deep root in your heart. Smart, funny, intense, and fast-paced are just a few of the adjectives I would use to describe Mia Kerrick’s new novel. Never once does she stray from treating her characters with respect—for their emotions, their decisions, and their flaws. This is what made this novel so special and so interesting—that the author allowed her crew to speak for themselves, to take on a life that was realistic and fraught with consequences, and to surround them with people who would both pull them down and lift them up.
The Weekend Bucket List is a coming of age narrative for every walk of life. It will speak to just about anyone who has loved another person and treasured their place in their lives. It speaks to us all and reminds us that the bond of friendship is strong and needs to be carefully nurtured to make it grow and last. I highly recommend this sweet story to you.