The Dinner List just hit me in the feels. I wasn’t even expecting it. But for some reason this adult fiction look at love, loss, and goodbyes hit a chord within me.
At one point or another, we’ve all been asked to name five people, living or dead, with whom we’d like to have dinner. Why do we choose the people we do? And what if that dinner was to actually happen? These are the questions Rebecca Serle contends within her utterly captivating novel, The Dinner List, a story imbued with the same delightful magical realism as One Day, and the life-changing romance of Me Before You.
When Sabrina arrives at her thirtieth birthday dinner she finds at the table not just her best friend, but also three significant people from her past, and well, Audrey Hepburn. As the appetizers are served, wine poured, and dinner table conversation begins, it becomes clear that there’s a reason these six people have been gathered together.
I think what The Dinner List does perfectly is strike that perfect balance between wisdom and closure. Sometimes the things we have to do aren’t the wisest and visa versa. In many ways, Sabrina’s dinner is not motivated by conventional wisdom. There’s emotions, unfinished stories, and relationships worth saving. But can you do all that in one night?
Serle makes us question our own choices and asks us – who would we choose? Something that was little, but that I loved, was that Sabrina’s list for who she’d choose changes. The people I would have chosen when I was a teenager are not who I would choose now. I might have been motivated by revenge before. Now I’m more motivated by closure and final words. Apologies I never got to make, and people I never got to say goodbye to.
But in the course of a book, Serle is able to brilliantly uncover the past and provide hope for the future. In the duration of the ending, we see how things began and how they ended. There are no rose colored glasses. This book is about uncovering our true emotions. It’s also about the conversations we wish we had and the relationships we wish we could bridge.
And, ultimately, what The Dinner List is about, and what touched me the most, is when we have to say goodbye. Sometimes we never get closure, there is no resolution. We want to fix our mistakes, to go back and feel that satisfaction. But we can’t. And we still need to say goodbye.