A Magical Road Trip | The Charmed List by Julie Abe

Friday, July 08, 2022

 The Charmed List by Julie Abe

Wednesday Books
Publication Date: 7/5/22
Pages: 304
Source: Netgalley/ from the publisher in exchange for an honest review (thank you, Wednesday Books!)
After spending most of high school as the quiet girl, Ellie Kobata is ready to take some risks and have a life-changing summer, starting with her Anti-Wallflower List—thirteen items she’s going to check off one by one. She’s looking forward to riding rollercoasters, making her art Instagram public (maybe), and going on an epic road-trip with her best friend Lia. But when number four on Ellie’s list goes horribly wrong—revenge on Jack Yasuda—she’s certain her summer has gone from charmed to cursed. Instead of a road trip with Lia, Ellie finds herself stuck in a car with Jack driving to a magical convention. But as Ellie and Jack travel down the coast of California, number thirteen on her list—fall in love—may be happening without her realizing it. In The Charmed List, Julie Abe sweeps readers away to a secret magical world, complete with cupcakes and tea with added sparks of joy, and an enchanted cottage where you can dance under the stars.
Jack and Ellie used to be best friends. However, after Jack’s mother passed away, he started ignoring Ellie, quickly becoming a stranger in her eyes. When a harmless prank goes horribly wrong, Jack and Ellie are forced on a road trip together. With a sprinkle of magic at every turn, The Charmed List will surely have readers swooning over the duo as they journey together.
  • I didn’t quite expect the magical elements of the plot. Of course, this is a side effect of skimming the synopsis and picking up the book wholly based on vibes. While unexpected, I found I enjoyed the whimsical elements of the world. Magical realism isn't my thing so I was nervous at first that that was what The Charmed List was going to introduce. Instead, the magic reminds me of all the whimsy of the classic Sabrina the Teenage Witch. There's even an adorable dog (that, unfortunately, doesn't talk) named Mochi too!
  • The premise of a bucket list of goals to accomplish by a certain date, like the end of summer, is not a new idea. However, while the element can be found elsewhere like in Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry by Joya Goffney or Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson, Julie Abe puts her own spin on it by throwing magic and a road trip into the mix. Regardless of seeing the list element in other books, I must note that I adore it. If I hear about a book that has a physical list of goals the protagonist is completing, count me in. It must be the organization lover in me.
  • When readers think of those classic YA characters, the protagonists usually love the classics—books like Jane Austen to music like ACDC. It is absolutely refreshing to find a YA protagonist like Ellie in The Charmed List actually like books from this era. The book mentioned Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim (which is a fantastic book) and so many more.
  • The Charmed List has a whole lot of heart at its core. It's heartwarming and enchanting, wrapping readers in a comfortable blanket. 
  • Ellie and Jack embark on a road trip filled with mini errands and with each stop, they get closer together. The structure of the book is absolutely lovely and endearing. It's a book about friendship and magic.
  • There are multiple scenes in the book where Ellie sketches her surroundings. Abe truly captures the perspective of an artist, describing the creative process in detail. It's both incredibly calming and inspirational. Plus, readers are able to receive a deeper understanding of Ellie through her work.
  • Road trip books are so much fun because they lead the way to so many opportunities. Authors are able to add more elements with a variety of different settings. My favorite sequence must have been the escape room challenge which sounded like so much fun. However, every time Ellie and Jack came across a magical village, I swooned. If I could live in the world Abe has created, I most definitely would.
The Charmed List by Julie Abe is the perfect beach read, complete with all the feels, romance that will have you swooning, and magic that feels both nostalgic and enchanting. Julie Abe whisks readers away on a magical road trip. You seriously do not want to miss this one. 

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