Title: The Weekend Bucket List
Author: Mia Kerick
Release date: April 19th, 2018 (Disclaimer: I received an e-ARC of this book in exchange for a fair review)
Two sentence summary: Close friends Cady LaBrie and Cooper Murphy have forty-eight hours to complete a end-of-high-school bucket list before graduation. With conflicting feelings and enigmatic Eli thrown into the mix, both Cady and Cooper must straddle the fine line between friendship and romance.
Quote: “If I had to label the look in Cady’s eyes, I’d call it ‘morning has broken’—like something truly amazing was dawning on her.”
What I loved: We don’t get a lot of YA books that are focused on friendship, especially LGBTQ YA. The Weekend Bucket List reclaims platonic love as meaningful in itself, not a consolation prize for when romance doesn’t quite work out. Sometimes friendship is just as intimate and sacred as romantic love, and I think what Cady and Cooper have is something to be cherished. Regardless of how the two reconcile feelings of attraction, their caring relationship for each other is in itself a beautiful end game.
You know another thing we don’t get a ton of? Bisexual characters who have a healthy relationship with their sexuality. It’s 2018 and people still act like you can either be gay or straight! Bi representation is a great way to combat this erasure, and The Weekend Bucket List’s Cooper is excellent progress. Although he’s previously defined himself as attracted to men, he doesn’t limit himself to a specific label. When he develops feelings for Cady, he lets himself feel them just as much as he does for the handsome newcomer Eli. I’ve heard that if people were more open with themselves, most would identify not as gay or straight but someplace in-between. Cooper exemplifies this fluidity and, because of it, feels complex and real.
Even though this book takes place over the weekend, it felt like a slow and sweet transition from shy and uncertain teenage years to the fearlessness of adulthood. I loved making the journey with Cooper and Cady and sorting through their valid, yet complicated feelings. As we’re nearing towards the end of spring, this is a perfect novel for kicking off graduation season and the summer that’s just on the horizon.
Recommended: For anyone who’s tired of YA writers ignoring the importance of platonic love, this will be a refreshing read. Plus, an openly bi character who isn’t forced to repress either side of his sexuality!
Next: Tomorrow Will Be Different by Sarah McBride
Q&A with the Author, Mia Kerick
Mia Kerick is an LGBTQ YA and New Adult romance writer whose books have won the Best YA Lesbian Rainbow Award, the Jack Eadon Award, an Indie Fab Award, and the Royal Dragonfly Award for Cultural Diversity (among other accolades). When she’s not writing, she enjoys editing Natural Honor Society essays, reviewing dance bios and English papers, and volunteering with the Human Rights Campaign. You can find book trailers, playlists, news, and upcoming events on her website.
1) You have written award-winning LGBTQ YA and New Adult books in your career. What inspired you to write queer fiction?
This is an excellent question, especially since I don’t identify as LGBTQ. There are a few reasons why I ended up writing queer fiction, but marital equality is one of the big ones. Full disclosure: I primarily write LGBTQ YA and New Adult romance. (The Weekend Bucket List is a step into general fiction, but still a love story of sorts.) I have always been someone who leans on my romantic partner, and after I got married to the person of my choice, it started to really bother me that some people could not do the same.
Keep in mind that I was married over 20 years ago—before there was marital equality in the United States. It just seemed so unfair and wrong that two committed people in a love relationship, who depended on each other for emotional and physical comfort, financial support, and who even shared families and homes, could not be legally wed. And so I was drawn to write stories that showed how the love of LGBTQ people is as powerful and real and worthy of respect as the love of heterosexual people. I have expanded my fiction to include stories of transgender teens, questioning teens, and the concept of complex friendship. Watch for My Crunchy Life (June 2018), All Boy (October 2018), and The Princess of Baker Street (winter 2019), which all deal with experiences of transgender teens.
2) The Weekend Bucket List is about two high school seniors who go on one last adventure before graduation while coming to terms with romantic tension. What inspired you to write this story of friends-turned- possibly-something- more?
The line between friendship and romantic love is truly quite fine. Cady and Cooper, best friends forever, have realized they are attracted to each other. The two teens understand that if they pursue romance and it doesn’t work out, they risk the comfort and normalcy of their friendship. Questions regarding Cooper’s sexuality further complicate this situation. I was originally inspired to create a love story out of complex friendship, but as I wrote, it became clear to me that friendship is also a kind of love. Friendship is valuable and worthwhile and can be very passionate. It’s worthy of tears when you lose it and jubilation when you’re lucky enough to hold onto it. It can be the ultimate prize.
3) The past few years have been phenomenal in terms of LGBTQ YA novels. Do you have any favorite queer YA novels or authors?
This question is easy. I LOVE Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. It combined platonic and romantic passion in such a beautiful way. I couldn’t put it down.
4) What advice would you give to young LGBTQ writers who want to write YA fiction?
I struggle with following the rules when I’m being creative. And there are plenty of rules for authors. My advice to young writers—break the rules. I do best when I let myself go as I write. When I wrote The Red Sheet, which won some literary awards, I told myself—“NO RULES, MIA! Write what makes you laugh, what makes you cry, what makes you mad, what makes you feel better. Hold nothing back!” It turned out very well. I did the same thing with the humor in The Weekend Bucket List.
So back to my advice: Tone it up, instead of down. Put your unique way of seeing things and saying things into your story. Set your teen characters free and see what they do! And don’t forget to have fun. (Then edit your backside off.)
The Weekend Bucket List is all about love, friendship, and a certain something in-between. If you want a LGBTQ YA novel that’s entirely unique, you can order it here!