The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle
Updated: Feb 14, 2020
Summary: Sabrina goes to her annual birthday dinner, but is surprised to find four additional guests besides her friend Jessica. During dinner, Sabrina has just a few hours to fix her damaged relationships.
Review: We all know the game; if you could have dinner with anyone dead or alive, who would it be? (John Stewart. Alive.) But, what if you got to pick five people? (Hmm. John Stewart, Stephen Hawking, Carrie Fisher, Bill Nye, Mahatma Gandhi.)
In The Dinner List, Sabrina walks into her birthday dinner to find the five people she picked waiting for her: Jessica the selfish friend, Conrad the wise professor, Robert the estranged father, Tobias the ex-boyfriend, and Audrey Hepburn the one and only.
Honestly, this dinner was not what I would have picked if I had the power to summon people from around the world and beyond the grave into one spot to talk with me. I would have gone for stimulating conversation about solving world problems instead of resolving personal beef. (And, of course, all things nerdy.)
What intrigued me into picking this book for my August Book of the Month selection was the fact that it featured Audrey Hepburn. However, her presence seemed a bit odd considering the plot. It didn't introduce anything I didn't already know about her and the movies mentioned were only the few most known about her. (I was a little disappointed there was no reference to my favorite movies, Funny Face or How to Steal a Million.)
I am also the type of person who doesn't like when characters are introduced, but details (especially appearance) are not introduced until later. It leaves filling in the blanks to my imagination only to be corrected over several chapters. Although as the story developed the characters were interesting enough that it was forgiven.
Sabrina was not my favorite character, nor was Jessica. They were both a bit too needy and judgmental. (Much of their arguing was like middle school level: "You're mean." "No, you're mean!") However, Conrad, Tobias, and Robert were interesting to me for their mystery and admitted flaws. As their stories progressed, you couldn't help but feel compassion for them.
Serle's writing seemed to capture what it is like to love and lose, to deal with imperfect relationships. In fact, I found myself dog-earring a few pages including one where she perfectly compared a relationship to playing a game of Jenga. (Seriously, it was as though she was basing it off of my last relationship!)
While I don't want to give anything away, there was a small twist that was nothing earth-shattering, but gave the story an extra pow factor. It is definitely not a book you want to read without some tissues around. Even though I found Sabrina a bit tedious, I found the struggle she faces in dealing with her losses to tug at the heartstrings.
Overall, I wasn't really into it in the beginning, but after a few chapters, I was hooked and enjoyed the unique dinner concept.