Someone Else’s Bucket List by Amy T. Matthews

Reviewed by Wendy Lipke

This story by Amy T. Matthews takes the reader into the mayhem of social media. This is a new world for some readers and although it seems very artificial and invasive at times this story shows how all this hoopla can be used to achieve good if one is strong enough to embrace it.

It is written with great pathos especially in the first part of the book which follows the latter days of a young woman’s life, fighting cancer. She is the central pillar around which the story unfolds as her younger sister, Jodie, carries out her sister’s bucket list wishes.

This undertaking is no easy task because while Bree Boyd was outgoing and media savvy, an Instagram influencer with more than a million followers, her sister Jodie is the opposite. Jodie is unsophisticated, awkward and anxious, moody and a bit of a loner, who felt like ‘an oatmeal coloured, drab, tired looking wren’ (23). Yet the love between these siblings had Jodie forcing herself to achieve her sister’s wishes. As stated on my copy of the book:

Jodie is grieving

                                                Jodie is lost

                                                Jodie is about to embark on the journey of a lifetime

All captured in the public eye.

While the beginning of this story is filled with sadness for those undergoing chemotherapy and feeling ‘trapped inside a snow globe’ (23), it gives the reader an insight into the tragic time many families face and the grief that the passing leaves behind.

One can only imagine the shock for this family when months after Bree’s passing, on the eve of Thanksgiving, a video from her suddenly appears on her Instagram account. The family is not only shattered from the loss of a loved one but also from the burden of medical bills left to pay.  Jodie can help lift this last impost if she accepts the daunting task Bree has presented her. She feels obliged to undertake Bree’s challenge which will send her to face situations she fears most.  Yet as the tasks are completed, a lightness lifts the family out of their despair and presents a blossoming of their younger daughter, Jodie.

This story is beautifully written with a deep understanding of the emotions involved. The descriptions found in the work could only be provided from close personal experience. The setting is obviously the USA with the weather, activities set in New York and special days like Thanksgiving as well as a link to baseball. One of the final tasks takes Jodie to Sydney and then a New Year Eve’s party on board their first-class Antarctic flight. The descriptions of the icebergs below are beautiful. This is as close as most of us will ever get to experience adventure.

A plethora of different personalities and agendas adds depth and colour to this story. It is lovely to see that the majority of people Jodie encounters on her quest are supportive, making the experiences less traumatic for her. This is not to say that there are not those with their own agendas to push. With any involvement in the social media world, there seem to be those who become very competitive and those who are just plain nasty, but also there are those who are genuinely just interested.

Amy T Matthews is a novelist and academic who writes under the names Amy T. Matthews, Amy Barry, and Tess LeSue, in multiple genres, including literary fiction, book club fiction, historical fiction, romantic comedy, and historical romance. If this book Someone Else’s Bucket List is a good example of her work, I look forward to reading more in the future.

Someone Else’s Bucket List

(2024)

by Amy T. Matthews

Simon & Schuster Australia

ISBN: 978 176142 502 8

$32.99; 400pp

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