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The Life List
Cover of The Life List
The Life List
A Novel
INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER

In this utterly charming debut--perfect for fans of Cecelia Ahern's P.S., I Love You and Allison Winn Scotch's Time of My Life--one woman sets out to complete her old list of childhood goals, and finds that her lifelong dreams lead her down a path she never expects.


1. Go to Paris
2. Have a baby, maybe two
3. Fall in love

Brett Bohlinger seems to have it all: a plum job, a spacious loft, an irresistibly handsome boyfriend. All in all, a charmed life. That is, until her beloved mother passes away, leaving behind a will with one big stipulation: In order to receive her inheritance, Brett must first complete the life list of goals she'd written when she was a naïve girl of fourteen. Grief-stricken, Brett can barely make sense of her mother's decision--her childhood dreams don't resemble her ambitions at age thirty-four in the slightest. Some seem impossible. How can she possibly have a relationship with a father who died seven years ago? Other goals (Be an awesome teacher!) would require her to reinvent her entire future. As Brett reluctantly embarks on a perplexing journey in search of her adolescent dreams, one thing becomes clear. Sometimes life's sweetest gifts can be found in the most unexpected places.

Praise for The Life List

"A wonderful, touching story that reminds us to live life to its fullest."--Cecelia Ahern, New York Times bestselling author of P.S., I Love You

"Spielman's debut charms."--Kirkus Reviews

"You won't want to miss Lori Nelson Spielman's remarkable debut, an intensely emotional novel of transformation and trust. It's about how we let go, and how we never let go. The Life List has great heart, and even greater soul."─Sarah Addison Allen, New York Times bestselling author of The Peach Keeper

"Irresistible! Everything I love and look for in women's fiction. A clever, funny, moving page-turner."─Susan Elizabeth Phillips, New York Times bestselling author of The Great Escape

Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader's Circle for author chats and more.

From the Trade Paperback edition.
INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER

In this utterly charming debut--perfect for fans of Cecelia Ahern's P.S., I Love You and Allison Winn Scotch's Time of My Life--one woman sets out to complete her old list of childhood goals, and finds that her lifelong dreams lead her down a path she never expects.


1. Go to Paris
2. Have a baby, maybe two
3. Fall in love

Brett Bohlinger seems to have it all: a plum job, a spacious loft, an irresistibly handsome boyfriend. All in all, a charmed life. That is, until her beloved mother passes away, leaving behind a will with one big stipulation: In order to receive her inheritance, Brett must first complete the life list of goals she'd written when she was a naïve girl of fourteen. Grief-stricken, Brett can barely make sense of her mother's decision--her childhood dreams don't resemble her ambitions at age thirty-four in the slightest. Some seem impossible. How can she possibly have a relationship with a father who died seven years ago? Other goals (Be an awesome teacher!) would require her to reinvent her entire future. As Brett reluctantly embarks on a perplexing journey in search of her adolescent dreams, one thing becomes clear. Sometimes life's sweetest gifts can be found in the most unexpected places.

Praise for The Life List

"A wonderful, touching story that reminds us to live life to its fullest."--Cecelia Ahern, New York Times bestselling author of P.S., I Love You

"Spielman's debut charms."--Kirkus Reviews

"You won't want to miss Lori Nelson Spielman's remarkable debut, an intensely emotional novel of transformation and trust. It's about how we let go, and how we never let go. The Life List has great heart, and even greater soul."─Sarah Addison Allen, New York Times bestselling author of The Peach Keeper

"Irresistible! Everything I love and look for in women's fiction. A clever, funny, moving page-turner."─Susan Elizabeth Phillips, New York Times bestselling author of The Great Escape

Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader's Circle for author chats and more.

From the Trade Paperback edition.
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Excerpts-
  • From the book

    9780345540874|excerptNelson / THE LIFE LIST

    chapter one

    Voices from the dining room echo up the walnut staircase, indistinct, buzzing, intrusive. With trembling hands I lock the door behind me. My world goes silent. I lean my head against the door and take a deep breath. The room still smells of her--Eau d'Hadrien perfume and goat's-milk soap. Her iron bed creaks when I crawl over it, a sound as reassuring as the tinkle of her garden chimes, or her silky voice when she'd tell me she loved me. I came to this bed when she shared it with my father, complaining of an ache in my belly or monsters under my bed. Each time Mom took me in, holding me close and stroking my hair, whispering, "There will be another sky, my love, just you wait." And then, as if by miracle, I'd wake the next morning to find ribbons of amber streaming through my lace curtains.

    I kick off my new black pumps and rub my feet in relief. Scooting backward, I settle against the yellow paisley pillows. I'm going to keep this bed, I decide. No matter who else wants it, it's mine. But I'll miss this classy old brownstone. "She's as sturdy as Grandmama," Mom would say about her home. But to me, no house, no person, was ever as steady as Grandmama's daughter--my mother--Elizabeth Bohlinger.

    Suddenly I have a thought. Blinking back tears, I bound from the bed. She hid it up here, I know she did. But where? I throw open her closet door. My hands grope blindly behind designer suits and dresses. I yank at a rack of silk blouses, and they part like theater curtains. There it is, nestled in her shoe rack like an infant in its crib. One bottle of Krug, sequestered to her closet for the past four months.

    Once it's in my clutches, guilt infests me. This champagne belongs to Mom, not me. She splurged on the outrageous bottle on our way home from her first doctor's appointment, and promptly tucked it away so it wouldn't be confused with the regular bottles downstairs. It was a symbol of promise, she rationalized. At the end of her treatments, when she was given a clean bill of health, she and I would open the rare champagne as a celebration of life and miracles.

    I finger the silver foil and bite my lip. I can't drink this. It was meant for a celebratory toast, not for a grieving daughter too weak to make it through a funeral luncheon.

    Something else catches my eye, wedged between the spot where I found the champagne and a pair of suede loafers. I reach for it. It's a slim red book--a journal, I suspect--secured with a faded yellow ribbon. The leather cover is cracked and weathered. To Brett, she has written on a heart-shaped gift tag. Save this for a day when you are feeling stronger. Today, raise a glass to us, my dear. What a duo we were. Love, Mom.

    I trace my finger over the handwriting, never as neat as one would expect from someone so beautiful. My throat aches. Despite her assurance of a happy ending, my mom knew the day would come when I would need rescuing. She's left me her champagne for today, and a sliver of her life, her inner thoughts and musings, for tomorrow.

    But I can't wait until tomorrow. I stare down at the journal, desperate to read her words right now. Just one quick peek, that's all. When I tug the yellow ribbon, though, an image of my mom takes shape. She's shaking her head, gently chastising my impatience. I glance at her note, telling me to wait until I'm stronger, and I'm torn between my wishes and hers. Finally, I set the journal aside. "For you," I whisper, and tap the cover with a kiss, "I'll wait."

    A moan rises from my chest, cracking the silence. I slap a hand over my mouth to catch it, but it's too late. I double over,...

About the Author-
  • Lori Nelson Spielman, a former speech pathologist and guidance counselor, currently works as a homebound teacher for inner-city students. She enjoys sailing, running, and reading, though writing is her passion. She lives in Michigan with her husband and a very spoiled cat.

Reviews-
  • Kirkus

    June 15, 2013
    Devastated by her mother's death, Brett Bohlinger consumes a bottle of outrageously expensive Champagne and trips down the stairs at the funeral luncheon. Add embarrassed to devastated. Could things get any worse? Of course they can, and they do--at the reading of the will. Instead of inheriting the position of CEO at the family's cosmetics firm--a position she has been groomed for--she's given a life list she wrote when she was 14 and an ultimatum: Complete the goals, or lose her inheritance. Luckily, her mother, Elizabeth, has crossed off some of the more whimsical goals, including running with the bulls--too risky! Having a child, buying a horse, building a relationship with her (dead) father, however, all remain. Brad, the handsome attorney charged with making sure Brett achieves her goals, doles out a letter from her mother with each success. Warmly comforting, Elizabeth's letters uncannily--and quite humorously--predict Brett's side of the conversations. Brett grudgingly begins by performing at a local comedy club, an experience that proves both humiliating and instructive: Perfection is overrated, and taking risks is exhilarating. Becoming an awesome teacher, however, seems impossible given her utter lack of classroom management skills. Teaching homebound children offers surprising rewards, though. Along Brett's journey, many of the friends (and family) she thought would support her instead betray her. Luckily, Brett's new life is populated with quirky, sharply drawn characters, including a pregnant high school student living in a homeless shelter, a psychiatrist with plenty of time to chat about troubled children, and one of her mother's dearest, most secret companions. A 10-step program for the grief-stricken, Brett's quest brings her back to love, the best inheritance of all. Spielman's debut charms as Brett briskly careens from catastrophe to disaster to enlightenment.

    COPYRIGHT(2013) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    March 15, 2013
    Happy with her boyfriend, her job, and her fabulous loft, Brett Bohlinger is entirely thrown by her mother's death--and even more thrown when the will stipulates that before she receives her inheritance she must complete a list of goals she wrote two decades ago at age 14. Become an awesome teacher? Brett's journey has attracted considerable attention, with rights sold to 14 countries and film rights optioned by Fox 2000 Pictures.

    Copyright 2013 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Cecelia Ahern, New York Times bestselling author of P.S., I Love You "A wonderful, touching story that reminds us to live life to its fullest."
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