We've all dreaded reaching those milestones in life; finishing school, getting our first job... but if there are any milestones that probably resonate more than any other, it's those associated with age.
The Thirty List sees Rachel, having reached THAT age, finding herself far from where she thought she'd be. Two years on from what she thought was her perfect, dream marriage to a man she loved, she's getting divorced, has no job (unless you count the occasional piece of freelance work) and, until she responds to an ad, no place to live.
However, it is as a result of responding to said ad, that she finds herself in 'employment' (paid in free rent rather than money). Through her interactions with and contributions to the household of Patrick, Alex and dog Max (in books like this, pets are always fun!) she begins to face up to the things she wants to do, as well as looking back over things she might have done differently.
Milestones often mean that people look back and think 'I wish I'd done that' and a big part of this book sees both Patrick and Rachel seizing the moments and opportunities they've missed so far in their lives by writing, and working their way through, lists of tasks (anyone for skydiving?), the outcomes to some of which prove quite humorous for the reader.
There are quite a few entertaining and chuckle-worthy parts to this book. It also balances itself against quite serious issues, such as broken families, and what it means and feels like to worry about someone you love. This is particularly memorable in the case of Patrick and his son who has haemophilia.
The arrival of Alex's mum back into the picture offers up some drama. As the book nears its conclusion after Rachel has moved out of Patrick's into a grotty, mouldy flat (we've all been there, right?), when he appears at her doorstep, it's pretty predictable as to the sort of note the story will end on.
If there's one thing to remember from this book it's a quote from page 384 in which Rachel's sister Jess tells her, reflecting on the challenges she's fulfilled:
It's not brave if you never do anything, just in case it scares you. Only if you're scared, and you do it anyway.
The book ends with an inspiring reminder, applicable to numerous situations, not just birthdays and life milestones:
You can start over, and turn a new page, and have the chance to do it all again.