Book Review: “The Throwback List” Goes Back and Looks Forward

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The list of flashbacks encourages readers to reflect on the past to see not only how far they may have – or may not have gone – but to move forward regardless.

Author Lily Anderson here invites readers to Sandy Point, Oregon. Sandy Point is a quiet seaside town that’s home to an occasional karaoke bar, a giant anchor statue, and a famous Sunday Sundae Surprise at Frosty’s Ice Cream Restaurant. Jo Freeman, Autumn Kelly and Bianca Boria-Birdy once dreamed that they would leave this city far behind after graduation, but life had other plans.

The book is divided into chapters centered on each protagonist: Jo, Autumn and Bianca. While written consistently in the third person, the chapters explore the experiences and perspectives of three very different women who come together in more ways than one.

Bianca Boria-Birdy is a former prom queen and valedictorian, and still a top performer. She runs the family tattoo parlor while juggling her grandmother’s family responsibilities and adjusting to her recent marriage. Her schedule is tight, leaving no room for anything that isn’t on the schedule. What she really needs is to go on a long postponed honeymoon, but that now seems to be pushed back once again. During this time, Autumn Kelly was once an actor. She now teaches drama at the local high school and may have had to say goodbye to her dreams of fame. But teaching emerging artists has given her a new appreciation for what her life could mean and what she has to offer. Jo Freeman returns home to Sandy Point after being fired from her social media job in Silicon Valley, which also ends her frequenting the hottest fitness studios and any plans she might have had for that down payment on his dream condo. She finds herself at home with her parents, unemployed, and does not know what to do next.

The crux of the matter is that Jo finds an old bucket list in her childhood bedroom. He places the three women on a path in the past while bringing them together. Jo, with the help of her friends, decides to complete all the elements of what she calls the “Rollback List” and post about it on social media. This book is filled with plenty of pop culture references and relevant nostalgic content, but it lacks an exciting motivation or gripping storyline. There’s very little drama, no strong climax, and you have to read about three-quarters of the book to understand why the impact of the comeback list might be significant. At the beginning and in the middle of the chapters, I also found it very difficult to like Jo, the main protagonist, as her apparent entitlement to her fantasy life remains unchallenged and she remains largely dismissive of her small hometown and life and someone else’s commitments. It made it hard to care about her and what she set out to accomplish until very late in the story.

Despite my reservations, there are some interesting comments about how we live our lives in today’s society and how everyone may see things differently. The following excerpt is a good example:

Jo found the idea of ​​reading social media without participating in it disturbing, a digital form of clairvoyance. Jo loved the mini-community in her comments, with people cheering her on and sharing their own jars of happiness, but now she saw all the comments through Wren’s inherent disapproval: strangers sharing false intimacy, leaving their approval behind. in misspellings and meaningless emojis.

The roles that social media plays are ripe themes for a coming-of-age story and while this book is about it, it hasn’t explored it in depth. The diversity of character origins and lifestyle preferences is also excellent. Those who are going through a period of transition in their life (whether professional, personal, or otherwise) in which they may feel uncomfortable or insecure may also find some comfort in this story. Some quotes that I found useful to reflect on were as follows, although I ultimately wanted more of them. The list of flashbacks.

  • What if all his life needed was a new coat of paint? What if she could preserve what was precious and keep moving forward?
  • Just because it’s nostalgic doesn’t mean it’s good. Or as you need it.
  • If you are looking for the meaning of life, I haven’t found it. What I discovered is that the funniest thing about being alive is the scariest part. You become who you want to be.
  • My priorities have changed and it has changed my place in the world.

The list of flashbacks Is is slated for release on October 5, 2021.

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