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Reviewed by Courtnee Turner Hoyle for Readers' Favorite
The Me List by Julee Balko is a women's novel about Olivia's ability to develop and maintain relationships while creating healthy boundaries. Olivia doesn't realize she's ready to dive into the workforce until her pushy, always self-confident neighbor, Patricia, forces a job on her. Olivia realizes she enjoys the position, and it doesn't take a lot of time away from her family. She starts to see her neighbor as more of a friend, and Patricia challenges her to write a "Me List" that focuses on the things Olivia would like to accomplish. However, an uncomfortable moment sends their friendship into a nosedive. Olivia and Patricia have pasts that make them withhold the conversations that strengthen relationships.
Julee Balko has mastered the ability to grab her readers by the heartstrings. I can't count how many times I read a line and burst into tears. Her characters are so real you'll feel like you know them and want to help them make better life choices or heal, and maybe hug them. Her writing style is conversational, and readers will move swiftly through the pages as they cringe at Olivia's embarrassing moments and celebrate as she makes more time for herself. Even though Olivia faces difficulties, Balko creates a solid support network, and it helps Olivia find peace when she can't fully overcome her hardships. The story covers addiction and the need for self-care and setting realistic boundaries. The Me List is fiction, but it could easily motivate and inspire readers who may have been involved in similar situations.