I usually feel obliged to finish a book. Somehow it just doesn’t seem right to abandon a story midway.

This summer was different. Perhaps it was the heat. Perhaps it is because I am once again listening to Tolkien on CD in the car and compared to that literary genius, everything else pales. Whatever the reason, I did not have patience for mediocrity and closed two books before I finished them. Just the same, I thought I would share why I thought they were a waste of my time.

Here is the first:

The premise of The Loose Ends List intrigued me.

17-year-old Maddie loves her grandmother dearly. Gram announces that she is dying and wants her family to accompany her on a farewell cruise. A book about family, intergenerational relationships, lifelong lessons and fond memories, right?


The five or six sexual references on page three, (including a crude comment from Gram), set the tone for the book and made it clear to me that I could not recommend it, but I pushed ahead to chapter two. That was the clincher. When Maddie’s completely dysfunctional family assembles in Gram’s apartment, the matriarch explains that she is a proponent of “death with dignity”. The eight week cruise will be filled with terminally ill travelers and their families. Surrounded by their loved ones, they will receive lethal injections and be slipped into the sea.

Wanting to give the author the opportunity to change Gram’s mind, I did the unthinkable: I skipped to the end of the book. Scanning pages, I discovered that Maddie’s family comes to grips with Gram’s decision. Meanwhile, Maddie tries to drown her grief in an affair with a young man on the ship after pressure from family members to lose her innocence. The two take-away messages for teens reading this book: assisted suicide and premarital sex are good.

Young adult readers deserve better than this agenda-driven story.

A former teacher, Jennifer Minicus is currently a full-time wife and mother.

Jennifer Minicus

Jennifer Minicus lives in New Jersey with her husband and son. A former French, Latin and mathematics teacher, Jennifer currently enjoys the responsibilities of a "domestic engineer", particularly making...