My Rebellion Checklist, by Susan Soares

rebellionchecklist-soares-ebooksmallIn her first two books, Susan Soares tells a comedic and supernatural romance (My Zombie Ex-Boyfriends), and a sweet tearjerker about coping with grief and loss (Heart on a String). In her third book, My Rebellion Checklist, she rebels against the plots of her previous stories in the best way possible and delivers her best book yet.

Victoria Matherson plans out everything in her life. She has checklists, sticky notes, organizers, you name it. After her graduation, she has her summer before college all planned out. The reader doesn’t learn how planned out she has it because the story starts with an event that swerves her plans off course. She is involved in a near-fatal car crash.

It’s a fantastic opening chapter because it jumps right into the action. The reader learns details about the car crash just as Victoria is. The accident isn’t her fault—she was doing everything correctly and lawfully—but that doesn’t change the fact that it happened.

They say disasters come in threes, and the car crash is the first. Before long, her boyfriend breaks up with her, and her parents tell her they’re getting a divorce. Without warning, Victoria’s perfect life is no longer perfect, and Victoria decides that’s it’s no longer worth it to be perfect. It’s no longer worth it to be Victoria. It’s time to be Tori, and it’s time for her to rebel.

She starts the titular checklist with the first item, which is to quit her job at her father’s office. This choice is completely natural for a teenager who’s now feeling somewhere between sad, confused, betrayed, and downright ticked off at her parents. The decision leads her to a job at a pizza place, which leads her to new and interesting characters, which leads her to check off more items on her list.

The list is a clever plot device because it provides a road-map and/or ticking-clock element to the story, but it all unfolds so organically from one checkpoint to the next. She may be changing her hairstyle or getting something pierced, but each decision believably leads to the next.

One of the author’s strengths includes the ability to create real teen characters with dialogue, actions, and quirks that breathe life into them. The supporting cast of characters is no exception. Best friend Rebecca is a usually supportive voice of reason. New friend Annie has a rebellious streak herself but offers sage advice from someone who’s been there. New coworker Zack is a little bit of a goof but always has the right quote for the moment—is he carefree and rebellious on the outside but with an organized mind?

And then there’s Victoria, a protagonist whose journey is well worth following and whose transformation is well worth rooting for. In Soares’ previous books, the main character almost took a somewhat passive role as the story dictated. Kaitlyn in My Zombie Ex-Boyfriends spent about half of the book avoiding the problem. Marissa in Heart on a String hides her grief. Here, Victoria/Tori takes action! She does stuff. Some of it is sensible, and some of it isn’t. She makes choices, she makes mistakes, she has her highs and lows, she gets bruised, and she learns—all this makes her instantly relatable. Victoria’s story is just like our own. She’s imperfect just like we all are.

This is a tight, well-written, and engaging story about a girl finding herself in that time period between high school and college when we’re all trying to find our own identity. Is she the super-organized Type-A Victoria? Or is she the carefree and rebellious Tori? Or maybe she’s a little bit of both. In the end, aren’t we all? That’s certainly what I took away from this book as I reflected upon my own life. We’re a little bit of both, and as I thought more about it, I realized the cleverness of the title of the book.

My Rebellion Checklist. At first glance, it’s the device that so deftly keeps the plot moving. But it’s such an oxymoron: if you’re going to rebel, you don’t plan it out via a checklist. That fits Victoria’s personality perfectly, so it’s believable. But it’s much more than a mere plot device; My Rebellion Checklist also nicely exemplifies the theme of being somewhere between the two. Rebel or organizer? Tori or Victoria? These are the questions the likeable protagonist faces in the book, and questions we all face in life.

This is a book intended for young adults of high school age or older. There are a few curse words, and there are references to alcohol, drugs, and sex. But the dialogue and situations read true and realistic for an 18-year-old protagonist. The story and characters crackle with life, the plot never relents, and in the end, I felt I learned something about life and myself. For all these reasons and so many more, I enthusiastically give My Rebellion Checklist FIVE STARS!

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My Rebellion Checklist is available at Amazon.

Read the spotlight of author Susan Soares HERE.

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