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  • Writer's pictureThe Bossy Bookworm

Review of Love, Lists and Fancy Ships by Sarah Grunder Ruiz

Sarah Grunder Ruiz serves up an irresistible rom-com with great banter and with interesting and difficult, complex issues of loss, grief, and responsibility at its heart.

Jo Walker is a yacht stewardess. She fell into the job years ago while trying to find herself--after a youth in which her father died, her mother fell apart, her older sister Beth became pregnant by (and married) her beloved high school sweetheart--and after Jo moved in with the young married couple while she finished high school.

But none of Jo's losses or disappointments or life experiences could have prepared her for the horrific, shocking loss of her young nephew Samson, Beth's youngest child (and Jo's birthday twin), in a biking accident.

Months later, Jo's grieving sister sends her two living children, Kitty and Mia, to stay with Jo for the summer. Jo has been set on achieving a zany bucket list of items before her thirtieth birthday--and the girls are set on helping her any way she can. But the girls' emotional pain naturally creeps through, and it's bringing up uncomfortable feelings in Jo--who vividly remembers the loss of her beloved father when she was young and who adored Samson. She has always pushed down her grief, but she wants the girls to be able to lean on her.

Meanwhile, Jo keeps crossing paths with a handsome, charming man new to town. But she's sworn off of relationships since her last boyfriend cheated on her, so she supposes they'll have to just be friends. Or is she reconsidering her stance on love after all?

I enjoy a rom-com with a solid center of complex issues, and Love, Lists and Fancy Ships (side note: I really want to add a serial comma into this title) serves up depth: grief and loss, fractured futures, clinging to familial relationships, fearing change, the sadness of moving forward, and the heartbreaking reckoning with perceived responsibility for events leading to loss.

The tension that keeps Jo and Alex apart feels plausible, and I accepted the difficulties each faces when considering a commitment to the other. I loved the best-friendship with Nina, the messy path of grief, and the imperfect characters all doing their best. I welcomed with open arms the happy ending served up by Sarah Grunder Ruiz.

I listened to Love, Lists and Fancy Ships as an audiobook.

Do you have any Bossy thoughts about this book?

You might also like the books on my Greedy Reading Lists Six Rom-Coms Perfect for Summer Reading and Six More Great Rom-Coms Perfect for Summer Reading.

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