By Hope Katz Gibbs, founder, Inkandescent PR + Publishing Co., for the Costco Connection Who would you invite to the dinner of a lifetime — the one where you are surrounded by five of the most significant people in your life, alive or dead?
The selection for Sabrina, star of “The Dinner List,” is served up in this 273-page turner by bestselling author and hit TV writer Rebecca Serle.
Readers meet Sabrina as she saunters into her 30th birthday party. Expecting only to have supper with Jessica, her best friend who encouraged her in college to create a dinner list, four others are seated around the table: Tobias, the unrequited love of her life; Robert, her estranged father; Conrad, a favorite professor — and Audrey Hepburn, just because.
“It strikes me as everyone places their order … that I didn’t really think this through. When I chose these five people to put on my list, it was entirely about me,” Serle writes in the novel. “My issues with each of them and my desire to be in their presence. I didn’t think of how they’d get along together.”
In the next four hours of that evening, Sabrina finds insight and answers to that pondering and closure around her most strained relationships.
Romantics will be hooked by the end of Chapter One.
And why not? This deliciously tragic story of love and loss, hope and sorrow, shows us how the most meaningful people in your life can help heal your heart — enabling you to grow and flow through life’s changes and challenges.
Serle’s ability to cut to the core of a relationship is one of her gifts, as is her ability to suck a reader into a story so you can’t put her books down. She does it masterfully in this tome, her first adult novel, and the half dozen she has crafted for the young adult audience.
Some have hit the publishing stratosphere, including her 2014 novel, “Famous in Love,” a hit show on Freeform for Warner Brothers Television. Her 2011 debut, “When You Were Mine” — a modern-day retelling of Romeo and Juliet from the perspective of Juliet’s cousin Rosaline — has been optioned as a film.
Ironically, this novel nearly stayed locked in her laptop, for she wrote the first 100 pages just before “Famous in Love” got picked up as a TV show.
But then, her beloved grandmother Sylvia Pesin died, and in her grief, Serle found herself surfing old computer files.
“I discovered those pages and realized there was a lot I wanted to say regarding losing somebody you love and the fantasy of having one last dinner with them,” shares Serle, who dedicated this novel to Pesin. “She taught me that first, baby, you gotta love yourself.” It’s also for her grandfather, Sam — the first person on the author’s dinner list.
What does the Serle hope readers will take away from “The Dinner List”?
“I’d love for people to think about how much of our past define us,” she tells The Connection from her apartment in Manhattan. “Things happen that we can’t change, but the story we tell about those things is transformative. I hope that people look at the stories that they tell about themselves, look at the stories that they tell about their path, look at the stories that they tell about their relationships and choose narratives that serve them, that are positive for them — and that move them forward in their lives.”
Hope Katz Gibbs is a freelance writer whose dinner list includes her dearest Aunt Natalie, grandmother Pearl who died when she was 10, Benjamin Franklin, and the two men who broke her heart.