The List: A Novel is a whirlwind of a book. The tale revolves around 2 main characters who after 2 years of being in a chaotic on-off relationship decide to end it for good. This time it can't fail, there is no going back, not with the list...
Each of them chooses 5 items that they would have liked to have done together so that they can avoid any feelings of regret and can instead have a sense of closure. But you know what they say about good intentions...
Isabel is a successful and brilliant medical student with a promising career ahead of her. She has a strong sense of self and loves to be in control of her life and goals. She has a close and loving relationship with her family who are fully in support of her dream to become a heart surgeon.
Then Al enters her life. A once successful movie director who holds down a job in a video-store, guzzles beer and seemingly just wanders through life, letting it take him where it will. His family are far away and left him to move in with his older brother when he was just 13. Could they be any more different? They end up living together -by accident, as Isabel would say- and spend the next two years bringing out the worst in each other
The List finally seems a fool proof way to let go once and for all. It's easy right? Do the 10 things they chose together and then walk away. The List seems to take on a life of it's own, ever-changing and growing and the book grows even more intense and fast-paced as we follow the repercussions of each choice, on the main characters and those around them.
It's a book that is brilliantly written with wonderfully complex characters and a roller coaster of a storyline, which will bring out so many emotions from you as you read. I found myself torn between pity, admiration, contempt, anger, sadness and even at times, exasperation as I watched the drama unfold. It's amazing how a book can begin by telling you how it will end (the break-up) yet you still find yourself hanging on with baited breath at times in the vain hope that they will work it out and be happy forever.
The List is a wonderful mix of dysfunction and sadness written in such a way that you can't help but be drawn in. It is sprinkled throughout with medical and movie trivia in a way that works impressively well and of course a dash of dark humour to top it off.
I loved this book and I know I will end up reading it again. One of my favourite parts was definitely a vivid description of a dream Isabel has in which she is blood, being pumped by a heart. Strange sounding I know but wait until you experience the intense writing style of Tara Ison for yourself and you will see what I mean.
Author's website: http://www.taraison.com (site includes a preview of The List - A Film by Jerry Pyle that really must be seen. It's great.)