by Amy Spalding
Devan’s life changes in a blink with the death of her father. Moving across the country. No more best friend. No more beloved high school theater. And she’s going to live with her mother. The reclusive, famous writer Reece Malcolm. Whom she has never met. And only has a small list of (Internet-sourced) information about.
Her list is bound to get longer if she’s actually living with Reece, right?
Look. Let’s just put this out there riiiiiiight from the start. I am a musical theatre* junkie. I mean, I like theatre in general. But musicals? Musicals are my jam.**
So, clearly, there’s a special spot in my heart for books about musicals. And The Reece Malcolm List is one of those books. The opening paragraph name-checks the Hair track, Aquarius. Troy Bolton and the closed-to-soon Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson are mentioned. This is a big deal (and super varied) for me. As Kelly sometimes says, this is a Kellie book. It’s just good to get this information out there, I think. I am genetically predisposed to like this book. Or positively, absolutely hate it.
Luckily, I felt the former, not the latter. Oh, Reece Malcolm, you made me very happy.
I know with the introduction I just gave it seems like this is All Musicals All the Time. And there are a lot of references and situations involving theatre – the main character is trying out for a production of Merrily, We Roll Along – but it’s not ALL about theatre. In fact, it’s really about a mother and a daughter trying to figure out who they are separately and together.
What I liked best about Spalding’s book was the way she spread out the drama. It’s a book about relationships and theatre and the drama isn’t DRAMA all the time. There was an ever-changing subtlety to the tension, or lack thereof, between characters as the book developed. I keep wanting to use the word “pitch” to describe this. The pitch of the tensions changed flawlessly.
I’m not even sure that made sense, but there you have it. It’s just how I feel, guys.
Just incredibly well-done all around. Enjoyable, heart-breaking and -warming. A delight. Just a delight.
Also – for those, like me, who are musical junkies, Amy does a kick-ass blog series called Musical Theatre Mondays on her website. I highly recommend checking it out.
*I am that person that spells it “theatre.” If you’re going to the theater – it’s the movie theater. The theatre is a stage. It’s just how I roll, guys, for clarification.
**Just ask my coworkers who are frequently subjected to the awesomeness that are broadway cast recordings.