Book Reviews

Review: The Charmed List by Julie Abe

As a fan of Julie Abe, I was so excited for her YA debut. The Charmed List is, no surprises here, charming. This magical contemporary is about confronting our past mistakes and (re)discovering the people around us. Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.


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.


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

TW: racism

I will forever be a fan of books with a road trip. But the road trip for Jack and Ellie is something special. Not only full of magical moments (quite literally!), it’s also full of expectations and the resurgence of the past. As I’ve mentioned, the magic in The Charmed List is so seamlessly interwoven. If you’re a fan of those contemporary stories with a touch of magic – this is for you! But I think my favorite element of the story have to be Ellie and Jack.

I loved how their story not only is one about love, but it’s also of apologies and discovery. Former childhood best friends, Jack and Ellie have a lot of history. So their story becomes not only about these sparks, but also this distance. To reconcile that the person we thought we knew, and maybe didn’t like, is actually someone else. I loved that this was only from Ellie’s POV, because it allows us to dwell in these misconceptions. To see that even when we are there, we don’t see the whole story.

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We can fall into these patterns and expectations of who we think someone is. That it takes some pushing not only to disregard that, but to see beyond it. Ellie and Jack’s story is one where they have to hold these two images in their heads and hearts. These past mistakes and moments they weren’t here for us. The old wounds and ghosts we can’t let go of. The Charmed List is truly charming. If you love a mix of precious and sweet characters with a road trip plot line (mixed with some family feuding) then this is for you. Find The Charmed List on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, & The Book Depository.


Who is your favorite road trip pair?

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