A dying teen leaves her best friend a to-do list.
Raquel’s best friend, Sasha, has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. After the adopted, mixed-race (white, black, and Brazilian) teen expires, Raquel receives a letter from beyond the grave: Sasha has planned an elaborate scavenger hunt for her white pal and enlisted a mysterious stranger to accompany her, Sasha’s long-lost birth brother, Elijah. As Elijah and Sasha complete the hunt, the pair grow closer, uncovering secrets from Sasha’s past and becoming romantically involved. The quirky premise does its best to elevate this by-the-numbers teen romance but never quite succeeds. Sasha is an excruciatingly insipid character, devoid of depth or development. A chunk of the novel is dedicated to Raquel and Elijah watching Sasha’s favorite movies together to learn about who she really was. These films include Mean Girls and The Princess Bride, movies so laughably basic one would be forgiven for entertaining the idea that the novel’s big reveal is that Sasha is not as clever and exciting as she thinks she is. The uninspired love story prattles on, encountering obvious speed bumps along the way. Raquel is a bland protagonist, absent of interior life or agency. Elijah is a typical brooding romantic hero, with just enough of a troubled past to be interesting but wishy-washy enough to not have any harsh edges.
A tedious and predictable snooze. (Fiction. 12-16)