Ellis has a lot of problem-people in her life – a mother who works midnight shifts as a radio host, a social-climbing best friend who parties too much, a male friend who is in love with a girl who won’t give him the time of day. But she does have one person in her life she can count on, who she can tell everything to, who will always be there for her – her dad, who has been in a coma for years and lives at a long-term care facility. 37 Things I Love (in no particular order) begins when Ellis learns that she might lose that silent presence in her life when her mother is talking about ending life support, and follows Ellis as she tries to fight this decision and learn to cope with tragedies beyond her control.
This is not the kind of book that I would usually pick up to read, but I was quite surprised with what I found. Magoon navigates deftly back and forth between fluffy, teen-y drama (my stupid drunk best friend! Agh!) to intense emotional turmoil (my dad is going to die…), often within a single page. Ellis’s denial, avoidance, sorrow, and rage is all there, but not in a hit-you-over-the-head-with-my-wavering-grasp-on-my-sanity way. It’s subtle. It’s complex. I also appreciated the mix between happy moments and sad – life, for Ellis, doesn’t stop when her father might die. She seems to have adapted to maintaining life even with a dull ache of grief behind her life at this point, and she continues to have triumphant moments, experience personal epiphanies and life-changing moments, and appreciate the people who give her joy – the 37 things she loves. This is a quick read, a fast ride, but the depth of character packed in is pretty amazing.