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Unclaimed Baggage

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In Jen Doll's young adult debut novel, Unclaimed Baggage, Doris—a lone liberal in a conservative small town—has mostly kept to herself since the terrible waterslide incident a few years ago. Nell had to leave behind her best friends, perfect life, and too-good-to-be-true boyfriend in Chicago to move to Alabama. Grant was the star quarterback and epitome of "Mr. Popular" wh In Jen Doll's young adult debut novel, Unclaimed Baggage, Doris—a lone liberal in a conservative small town—has mostly kept to herself since the terrible waterslide incident a few years ago. Nell had to leave behind her best friends, perfect life, and too-good-to-be-true boyfriend in Chicago to move to Alabama. Grant was the star quarterback and epitome of "Mr. Popular" whose drinking problem has all but destroyed his life. What do these three have in common? A summer job working in a store called Unclaimed Baggage cataloging and selling other people's lost luggage. Together they find that through friendship, they can unpack some of their own emotional baggage and move on into the future.


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In Jen Doll's young adult debut novel, Unclaimed Baggage, Doris—a lone liberal in a conservative small town—has mostly kept to herself since the terrible waterslide incident a few years ago. Nell had to leave behind her best friends, perfect life, and too-good-to-be-true boyfriend in Chicago to move to Alabama. Grant was the star quarterback and epitome of "Mr. Popular" wh In Jen Doll's young adult debut novel, Unclaimed Baggage, Doris—a lone liberal in a conservative small town—has mostly kept to herself since the terrible waterslide incident a few years ago. Nell had to leave behind her best friends, perfect life, and too-good-to-be-true boyfriend in Chicago to move to Alabama. Grant was the star quarterback and epitome of "Mr. Popular" whose drinking problem has all but destroyed his life. What do these three have in common? A summer job working in a store called Unclaimed Baggage cataloging and selling other people's lost luggage. Together they find that through friendship, they can unpack some of their own emotional baggage and move on into the future.

30 review for Unclaimed Baggage

  1. 5 out of 5

    Madalyn (Novel Ink)

    This review originally appeared on Novel Ink. I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. *4.5 stars* TW: alcoholism; sexual assault; victim blaming; racism (all are challenged in the story) Ever wonder what happens to lost luggage that’s never returned to its rightful owner? Well, in the adorable Unclaimed Baggage, we, along with the three main characters, get to find out! When I saw the author would be sig This review originally appeared on Novel Ink. I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. *4.5 stars* TW: alcoholism; sexual assault; victim blaming; racism (all are challenged in the story) Ever wonder what happens to lost luggage that’s never returned to its rightful owner? Well, in the adorable Unclaimed Baggage, we, along with the three main characters, get to find out! When I saw the author would be signing ARCs of Unclaimed Baggage at BookExpo, I immediately made it a priority to pick up a copy. I mean, a book about teenagers working in a lost luggage store? My inner air travel geek was so here for it. And, I’m happy to report, this book did not disappoint! Unclaimed Baggage follows three main characters– Doris, Nell, and Grant– over the course of their summer jobs at the store in their small town that processes and sells items from lost luggage. We get to read from all three of their perspectives, and I truly appreciated what each had to offer. Doris is the resident non-religious liberal in her tiny Southern town (which was #relatableAF), and she’s constantly challenging the problematic ideals and traditions prevalent in her hometown. Nell has just moved to small-town Alabama from Chicago, so we get an outsider’s perspective. And then there’s Grant, the town’s star quarterback, who’s hiding his struggles with alcoholism from the general public, who all adore him. Though a friendship might seem unlikely between an outcast, a new girl, and the most popular boy in town, the three quickly become close. And it’s easy to understand why, once you get to know these characters– they’re all intensely loyal, good people. They are always there to support one another, but also aren’t afraid to call the others out on any BS. All three of them are a bit lost in their own ways, much like the luggage they process every day at the store. (Which, by the way, was one of the most fun parts about this story. I loved reading about the characters opening up new bags and discovering what was inside). All of that being said, Unclaimed Baggage is much more than a feel-good friendship story. It tackles important issues like misogyny, racism, and reproductive rights. Rather than feeling tokenistic, these elements were incorporated very well into the story. I think it’s important for YA to address topics like these, because prejudice (unfortunately) is pretty prevalent right now in our current social and political climate. Overall, I loved everything about this book. It featured wonderful, healthy friendships, a sweet summer romance, a unique setting, social commentary, and a lovable cast of characters I won’t soon forget. If you love a good YA contemporary, I highly recommend you keep an eye out for Unclaimed Baggage when it hits shelves!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Mary H

    4.5 stars. I expected a cute, quirky romcom, but I got SO much more than that. Unclaimed Baggage has a LOT of hidden depth to it, and I really enjoyed it! Full review tk.

  3. 5 out of 5

    ALEXA

    3.5 stars! I’m really into stories where people are brought together by circumstance and end up growing more into who they really are because of those relationships and experiences. Loved the added bonus of the Unclaimed Baggage store as a setting too!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jane

    3.5 stars!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kelly Hager

    This is an incredibly fun read. I think most of us can relate to feeling like an outsider, and if that's also you, you will love Doris.  All three of them are struggling, though. Nell is in a new town, Grant may well be an alcoholic (those online quizzes indicate yes, but he's not so sure) but either way, his life is falling apart and again, Doris is a liberal in a conservative, religion-is-the-best-thing-except-maybe-football town. I love stories about friendship and stories where people are very This is an incredibly fun read. I think most of us can relate to feeling like an outsider, and if that's also you, you will love Doris.  All three of them are struggling, though. Nell is in a new town, Grant may well be an alcoholic (those online quizzes indicate yes, but he's not so sure) but either way, his life is falling apart and again, Doris is a liberal in a conservative, religion-is-the-best-thing-except-maybe-football town. I love stories about friendship and stories where people are very much out of their element but then they adjust and end up loving where they are. This book has both of those elements (also personal growth). It's sweet and laugh out loud funny, but there are also heavy topics. It's a delicate balance but it works very well. And while you will correctly call a lot of the plot, you'll still very much enjoy the ride. (Also, at least one thing will catch you very off guard.) Recommended.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Karen’s Library

    First of all, thank you so much to Fierce Reads for the book giveaway!! I'm not a big contemporary reader so may not have read this book otherwise if I hadn't won this copy. Well... This has turned out to be one of my top favorites of 2018!! I loved it! And now I want to read more like this, and more by Jen Doll. Unclaimed Baggage was such a delight to read. I'm totally and completely enamored over Doris, Nell, and Grant, three teens who work at a store that sells the contents of lost, unclaimed First of all, thank you so much to Fierce Reads for the book giveaway!! I'm not a big contemporary reader so may not have read this book otherwise if I hadn't won this copy. Well... This has turned out to be one of my top favorites of 2018!! I loved it! And now I want to read more like this, and more by Jen Doll. Unclaimed Baggage was such a delight to read. I'm totally and completely enamored over Doris, Nell, and Grant, three teens who work at a store that sells the contents of lost, unclaimed baggage. The book was funny, and the characters endearing. And there were deeper issues that are looked at such as sex assault, alcoholism, and racism. I thought the author handled each of these horrific items well. I'm pretty sure I'm going to have a fairly significant book hangover now. Thanks for that, Jen Doll!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lauren R.

    This was great! A quiet, heartwarming, and quirky story. I loved the main characters so much and that only grew with every page. I wish there was even more time at the Unclaimed Baggage; the concept of the store was so fun! I loved how some of the luggage-related threads were woven together eventually. The author covered a lot of serious issues while keeping the book lighthearted overall. Highly recommend!!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lisa (Remarkablylisa)

    REVIEW TO COME

  9. 4 out of 5

    Katherine Moore

    It’s probably humanly impossible to not like a book with fluffy clouds and a little squirrel holding nuts on the cover. So far, I believe this to be 100% true. ‘Unclaimed Baggage’, while having nothing to do with now-endangered and very cute red squirrels, is just as adorable a book on the inside as it is on the outside, and if it’s that cover that draws you in (like it did me), so be it). It’s the goods inside though that will make you stay a while. The title of the book is the name of the store It’s probably humanly impossible to not like a book with fluffy clouds and a little squirrel holding nuts on the cover. So far, I believe this to be 100% true. ‘Unclaimed Baggage’, while having nothing to do with now-endangered and very cute red squirrels, is just as adorable a book on the inside as it is on the outside, and if it’s that cover that draws you in (like it did me), so be it). It’s the goods inside though that will make you stay a while. The title of the book is the name of the store that brings three new and unlikely friends together in small town Alabama. Doris has been working at Unclaimed Baggage for a while, and takes great pride in her work, unpacking suitcases that have lost their owners somewhere along the way on their journeys around the world, left at airports, unclaimed, unnamed. The contents of the bags are then sold in this unique store, which gets customers from all over the place, and even has an Instagram feed. Nell is the newcomer, who has been made to move from the Chicago suburbs to this tiny Southern town, away from her boyfriend and BFFs, and at the start of the summer too. Forced to get a summer job by her rocket scientist mom, she fortunately meets Doris at the store. And to round out the unlikely trio, we have Grant Collins, the hometown (but recently disgraced) football star, struggling with a drinking problem, having recently lost his girlfriend, as well as his way. His mom calls in a favor and gets him a job at the store, which is probably the best thing to ever happen. Over the course of their summer (but barely a couple of my days) this trio is taken through a bonding experience like no other, and not only do they have infinitely a more exciting summer than I had, these unlikeliest of friends learn some big eye-opening things about the world. Author Jen Doll is a smart writer, and beneath all the adorable quirkiness, she presents a whole host of issues that teens (and a lot of us, in fact), have dealt and might deal with: sexual assault, alcohol abuse (particularly how it’s accepted in certain groups in high school), grief and loss, racism, a particular brand of which is still especially pervasive in the South, as well as an expectation for everyone to subscribe to the same Christian dogma. Doll also gives us these wonderful teen characters that challenge these issues in a way that I found, for a change, to be brave instead of obnoxious, to be thoughtful instead of preoccupied, and actually give us cause to be sympathetic to their faults (especially dear Grant). One key element of this novel, underneath all that quirkiness which I just loved, is relationships, and since this is a contemporary YA novel, it’s worth noting that it isn’t filled with text conversations, and there are also positive family relationships in this book, with the parents actually feeling like real people. I’m finding this is becoming a rarity in my reading lately (is it really so bad to put that out there?). Additionally, the close relationship Doris had with her aunt Stella, who’s passed away, plays a big part in the book; the exploration of Doris’ grief and the influence she had on her, adds depth to this story and her character. All of this though, is served up with heaps and heaps of Southern fried syrupy goodness and charm, or at least, a furry manatee, and suitcases with their own names. The ‘scenes’ at the store were so wonderful, I wanted more, with all these amazing artifacts and personal belongings from people all over the world ending up on their shelves with the teens wondering their backstories. I also didn’t even mind the fact that Jen Doll uses the alternating ‘voices’ of Doris, Nell, and Grant, to tell the story, which is a writing device I was becoming tired of lately but in the case of ‘Unclaimed Baggage’, I found it worked well. The book is also divided up into the three months of the summer vacation, to give you a sense of time flow. However ‘slow’ their (or anyone’s) summer went, I raced through this book. It is funny, quirky, thoughtful, and full of so much heart that I can’t help but love it to pieces. *I gratefully received this ARC as part of Miss Print's ARC Adoption Program."). This squirrel is being released into the wild on September 18th, ‘18.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Samantha (WLABB)

    Rating: 3.5 Stars I am going to start by saying, that I love the concept behind this book. Three teens, who are trying to find how they fit in this world are brought together, and a wonderful and unlikely friendship forms. I was totally onboard with the underlying concept of this book. I wanted to run for president of the Doris fan club from chapter 1. I loved her voice and her quest to be a connector. It was very beautiful and altruistic, and I thought it was wonderful, that she wouldn't let set Rating: 3.5 Stars I am going to start by saying, that I love the concept behind this book. Three teens, who are trying to find how they fit in this world are brought together, and a wonderful and unlikely friendship forms. I was totally onboard with the underlying concept of this book. I wanted to run for president of the Doris fan club from chapter 1. I loved her voice and her quest to be a connector. It was very beautiful and altruistic, and I thought it was wonderful, that she wouldn't let setbacks keep her from being true to herself and doing the right thing. I was a fan of the friendship, which developed quickly between Nell and Doris. Being the lone liberal in a conservative town cannot be easy, and it was great that the universe brought a "yankee" into Doris' world. Shortly thereafter, Grant joined the group. Doris had a past with Grant, and it was not a good one. However, because Doris' goal was to be a "connector", she showed him grace and welcomed Grant into her small circle. Thank goodness she did, because Grant's life was in turmoil. I really appreciated the way Doll handled Grant's addiction. We saw how it affected him and those around him, and I liked that she did not shy away from the ugliness of it. Though Doris was struggling with past pain and losses, it was Grant's situation, which really broke my heart. His confusion, denial, and guilt made me want to give him a hug. I was so proud of any progress he made, and utterly downtrodden when he failed, but I never stopped rooting for him. The store was such a source of fascination for me. I looked forward to getting in new shipments, and sorting through people's lost things. The process was fun, and there was even a little mystery suitcase. This suitcase had a few highlights, which I thought were fairly brilliant in the way they tied into our characters' struggles. But what really, really delighted me, was the backstory of the bag, and it's connection to Doris. I love when authors do that sort of thing. Yes, I liked many, many things about this book, but I did feel like the author was a bit heavy handed at times. I understood that Doris was the lonely liberal, and I did appreciate that Doll tried to point out that not all southerns or christians are bad, but she turned what was initially a really light hearted and amusing story into something much more dramatic. There was also one liberal darling that seemed forced into the story, when it was initially introduced, whereas many of the others worked more organically with the story. I will commend Doll on deftly combining the three POVs, and delivering an entertaining story, which had a lot of depth and was packed with some fantastic characters. *ARC provided in exchange for an honest review. BLOG | INSTAGRAM |TWITTER | BLOGLOVIN | FRIEND ME ON GOODREADS

  11. 4 out of 5

    Genereams

    What I have read so far it is one the best book ever.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Julie Guthrie

    Even more familiar settings, characters, and themes than I expected. <3

  13. 4 out of 5

    Misti

    At first, teens Doris, Nell, and Grant seem to have nothing in common beyond their summer job at a thrift store that sells the contents of suitcases left at airports. As they get to know one another, a deep friendship develops, and they find that they can help each other through the difficulties they are currently facing. This is a nice, feel-good story. There’s some romance, but the book is much more about friendship and dealing with one’s past. I found the writing a little pedantic in places, e At first, teens Doris, Nell, and Grant seem to have nothing in common beyond their summer job at a thrift store that sells the contents of suitcases left at airports. As they get to know one another, a deep friendship develops, and they find that they can help each other through the difficulties they are currently facing. This is a nice, feel-good story. There’s some romance, but the book is much more about friendship and dealing with one’s past. I found the writing a little pedantic in places, exhibiting a tendency toward unnecessary explanations (see what I did there?). And the chapters were written from the point of view of the three main characters, but I didn’t find their voices very distinctive; several times I had to look back and see who was talking now. (Also, I could have done without the chapters from the perspective of the suitcase — I found that a little too precious.) But despite some quibbles, I found it an enjoyable read, over all. I’d recommend it for younger teens.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sarah K

    4.5 stars! I loved this book! It’s funny, has great characters and full of heart. It’s about 3 teens who get a job at a store called Unclaimed Baggage that sells items and suitcases that had been lost luggage from airports. They all have difficult things going on in their lives and their friendship becomes a place of healing. It deals with a lot of different subjects, alcoholism, racism, religious hypocrisy but it’s done well and speaks up against those who do wrong. Unclaimed baggage was such a del 4.5 stars! I loved this book! It’s funny, has great characters and full of heart. It’s about 3 teens who get a job at a store called Unclaimed Baggage that sells items and suitcases that had been lost luggage from airports. They all have difficult things going on in their lives and their friendship becomes a place of healing. It deals with a lot of different subjects, alcoholism, racism, religious hypocrisy but it’s done well and speaks up against those who do wrong. Unclaimed baggage was such a delight, hilarious and book that touched my heart! I highly recommend buying this one!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Cambear

    Three and a half stars Fun premise about a couple of unlikely friends who bend over a summer job. The job itself sounds like so much fun, but the story covers some serious issues (harassment, bullying, alcoholism, racism) for balance, I wished I liked the characters a bit more. The two girl POV blended together and the guy isn’t the most sympathetic character. It was hard to root for him when I couldn’t find strong reasons for it other than pity. Love the cover with the squirrel though... Thanks to Three and a half stars Fun premise about a couple of unlikely friends who bend over a summer job. The job itself sounds like so much fun, but the story covers some serious issues (harassment, bullying, alcoholism, racism) for balance, I wished I liked the characters a bit more. The two girl POV blended together and the guy isn’t the most sympathetic character. It was hard to root for him when I couldn’t find strong reasons for it other than pity. Love the cover with the squirrel though... Thanks to Swoon Reads for providing a copy of the book for review.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    Cute! review to come

  17. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth (BookishConnoisseur)

    4.5 stars! This was so refreshing and lovely. More review to come!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    3.5 // fun fact: I lived in Alabama for two years and this book definitely brought me back. Super cute.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Laura Hill

    Writing: 3 Characters: 4 Plot; 3 An enjoyable, though somewhat over simplified, story of three teens who become friends one hot summer in Alabama amidst the chaos of the “Unclaimed Baggage” store -- a place that trades in goods reclaimed from unclaimed airline baggage sold after the legal waiting period. Doris is the “#1 weirdo liberal agnostic” in the small Alabama town. Nell is a Chicago transplant whose sudden move away from friends was precipitated by her mother’s dream job offer at Marshall S Writing: 3 Characters: 4 Plot; 3 An enjoyable, though somewhat over simplified, story of three teens who become friends one hot summer in Alabama amidst the chaos of the “Unclaimed Baggage” store -- a place that trades in goods reclaimed from unclaimed airline baggage sold after the legal waiting period. Doris is the “#1 weirdo liberal agnostic” in the small Alabama town. Nell is a Chicago transplant whose sudden move away from friends was precipitated by her mother’s dream job offer at Marshall Space Flight Center. Grant was the local football star until he took a wrong turn and suddenly found himself a hidden alcoholic. Together these three have adventures, find romance, and bring liberal values to a decidedly conservative state. The store itself and the kind of things found and sold there was the real star for me. I really did enjoy reading this book but I had trouble with the over the top political correctness suffusing every page. I feel like the book perpetuated several negative Southern stereotypes, even while our three heroes continue to lecture each other on the fact that everyone just needed to be educated. The PC agenda kind of overwhelmed the sweet and funny story that simmered beneath. So — good story, lovable characters, but it would have been nice if they simply modeled good behavior rather than hitting us all over the head with it. A little dumbed down and I don’t believe our YA audience needs that.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Emma (Miss Print)

    "Sometimes you had to give something up to get what you really wanted in the first place." Nell, Grant, and Doris have nothing in common. Nell is a Chicago transplant unsure what to do with herself in small town Alabama--especially when her amazing boyfriend is still back home. Grant used to be the the star quarterback. His family and coach are keen to help him keep that persona by covering up his recent DUI. But he's starting to think he might just be a has been. Then there’s Doris. She knows she’s "Sometimes you had to give something up to get what you really wanted in the first place." Nell, Grant, and Doris have nothing in common. Nell is a Chicago transplant unsure what to do with herself in small town Alabama--especially when her amazing boyfriend is still back home. Grant used to be the the star quarterback. His family and coach are keen to help him keep that persona by covering up his recent DUI. But he's starting to think he might just be a has been. Then there’s Doris. She knows she’s an outsider. How can she be anything else as an outspoken liberal feminist in her conservative small town? She doesn’t mind because at least she has free reign of Unclaimed Baggage where she works sorting through and selling lost luggage. As the three become reluctant coworkers for the summer Nell, Grant, and Doris will have to work together if they want to manage all of their own excess baggage in Unclaimed Baggage (2018) by Jen Doll. Unclaimed Baggage is Doll's debut novel. The story alternates between Nell, Grant, and Doris' first person narrations with smaller vignettes throughout detailing the many journeys that brought key pieces of lost luggage to the store. Over the course of one summer these three unlikely characters become friends as their lives entwine in unlikely ways. Doris is still grieving her aunt's sudden death last year, Nell is shaken up by the culture shock of her move, and Grant is trying (and often failing) to come to terms with his drinking problem. Each character has a distinct narrative voice while the surprisingly compelling luggage vignettes have a more omniscient tone. Doll brings small town Alabama to life with its charms (notably seen at a balloon festival) and its small-mindedness as Doris struggles with the stigma she hasn't been able to shake since a boy in her church group groped her and she refused to stay quiet (or return to church) and, later in the novel, another character is targeted in a racially motivated attack. Unlikely friends, hints of romance, and a mystery surrounding an empty suitcase flesh out this character driven plot. Unclaimed Baggage is a charming slice-of-life novel about one formative summer and the small moments that can lead to big changes. Recommended. Possible Pairings: Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett, Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley, In a Perfect World by Trish Doller, The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo, Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World edited by Kelly Jensen, Moxie by Jen Mathieu, When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon, Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills, The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed *An advance copy of this title was provided by the publisher for review consideration at BookExpo 2018*

  21. 5 out of 5

    Gaby

    A super charming story about three mismatched teens becoming friends, overcoming personal struggles (sometimes together!), and working probably the coolest summer job. I loved all of the southern flair and the issues this book dealt with. I also really love the squirrel on the cover (though I'm not sure why).

  22. 5 out of 5

    Martha Avans

    Review to come

  23. 4 out of 5

    Michelle (Undeniably Book Nerdy)

    Originally posted on Undeniably Book Nerdy book blog There was just something about Jen Doll's story that had me binge reading the entirety of Unclaimed Baggage in a day. It may possibly be the fact that it's a quirky story about three teens who became unlikely friends one summer while working in a store that sells stuff from people's lost luggage. It could be the characters--I want to be part of Doris, Nell, and Grant's friendship group and work at Unclaimed Baggage with them! Or, it's the touch Originally posted on Undeniably Book Nerdy book blog There was just something about Jen Doll's story that had me binge reading the entirety of Unclaimed Baggage in a day. It may possibly be the fact that it's a quirky story about three teens who became unlikely friends one summer while working in a store that sells stuff from people's lost luggage. It could be the characters--I want to be part of Doris, Nell, and Grant's friendship group and work at Unclaimed Baggage with them! Or, it's the touch of romance, the dash of mystery, and the sprinkling of more heavier topics like alcoholism, sexism, racism, religious hypocrisy, and small-mindedness in a small Southern town that kept the story grounded and much heavier than the cutesy cover would have you believe. We start the story in Doris's POV--the self-proclaimed "Number One weirdo liberal agnostic in my minuscule Alabama town." She's still mourning the lost of her aunt Stella, the one person who never judged her and encouraged her to be her own person, but working in the stockroom of Unclaimed Baggage was her happy place and helped her deal losing her aunt. But, soon Doris's sanctuary was invaded by Grant (our second POV), the handsome star quarterback and the town's golden boy who could do no wrong. But, unbeknownst to everyone, he has a burgeoning drinking problem that caused a series of events that had him lying low for the summer. He was ordered to "worked on his issues" with the promise that he'll be reinstated in the football team in the fall with barely a slap on the wrist. To get him out of the house, his mom got him a job at Unclaimed Baggage. Then, we have our third POV, Nell, who just moved to Doris and Grant's town from Illinois, leaving behind her friends and her boyfriend of three months Ashton. Suffice to say, Nell was not happy with the move. Her parents encouraged her to find a summer job to make new friends, and she ended up working in Unclaimed Baggage with Doris and Grant. I liked Doris and Nell right away and the easy friendship that formed between them. It took me a while to warm up to Grant who came across as a real douchebag in the beginning. There was friction between Doris and Grant because of their shared history. I cheered Doris on when she told him off and didn't take any of his bullshit. He did get better the more he hung out with the girls, and I really like the trio they formed as they helped each other deal with their own emotional baggage. Upping the quirkiness factor of the novel, we also get short chapters about a purple luggage that eventually made its way to the store. For a while I didn't know where the author was going with this random luggage when all I wanted to do was get back to Doris, Nell, and Grant. But, it all made sense in the end and I liked how it went full circle with one of the story's threads. Unclaimed Baggage the store was one of my favorite things in Unclaimed Baggage. I didn't know selling stuff from people's lost luggage was a thing until I googled it and found out it's a real store. I've been stalking their Instagram since (they have some really amazing stuff!), and if I ever find myself traveling to Alabama, I'll definitely make it a priority to visit. I flew through the book very quickly as I tend to whenever I read lighthearted, romcom-ish reads like Unclaimed Baggage. But, beneath the initial cute/quirky tone it does delve into more serious topics where there were no easy answers. I thought the author did a good job balancing the light and the heavy, and at the same time not tying everything in a neat bow in the end. With that said, I do wish we got an epilogue a few months down the road that updated us how Doris, Nell, and Grant were getting on now that they're in school. I'm confident that Doris and Nell will remain close, but I have questions about Grant as his was the most open-ended. I thoroughly enjoyed Unclaimed Baggage, and I can't wait to read more by Jen Doll.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Gaele

    A bit unsure about the premise, but curious enough to check it out, Doll uses her three characters all brought together as they work in a summer job at Unclaimed Baggage – the store that sells the luggage and contents of the bags that were lost and unclaimed from the airlines. Of course, the bags and the items they contain have unknowable stories – and Doll weaves some of the ‘possible theories’ of the origins to help these three work out their own issues and struggles. Nell is the newly transpl A bit unsure about the premise, but curious enough to check it out, Doll uses her three characters all brought together as they work in a summer job at Unclaimed Baggage – the store that sells the luggage and contents of the bags that were lost and unclaimed from the airlines. Of course, the bags and the items they contain have unknowable stories – and Doll weaves some of the ‘possible theories’ of the origins to help these three work out their own issues and struggles. Nell is the newly transplanted “yankee” from Chicago – moved just at the start of summer and leaving behind her friends and boyfriend, her mother has decided that Nell needs a job, and fortunately the first person she meets at the new job is Doris. Local girl Doris is singularly unique, with her own history of ‘mot fitting in’ and some embarrassing moments that she is trying to live down. When you add in her grief from the loss of her aunt Stella, and her determination to be a ‘connector’ for those who need it as a sort of homage to her aunt, the warm welcome for Nell, and the quiet simpatico of their political leanings (both being more liberal than the norm) these two are soon friendly, on their way to fast friends. But all is not smooth waters there – enter Grant, the high school football star who’s reputation and issues are piling up. With his drinking finally brought to light, his stardom, girlfriend and way are all in jeopardy – but his mother quietly steps in and gets him a summer job with Nell and Cora. Cora and Grant have a history, most of it not particularly flattering to either of them, but in a move that is far beyond her years, Cora welcomes Grant into the little group with grace and style that shows her determination to change and the power of acceptance for Grant. Unlike other stories that are YA in focus, these are three teens who aren’t texting and boy crazy, there isn’t a real “romance’ in the mix, no triangles and no posturing. Instead, as they unpack the cases and play about with stories and possible histories of the items, they also start to unpack their own issues, getting advice, support and even some solutions from the others. The mix of voices simply adds to the immediacy and ingrained nature of the issues they face – and none of the issues are small ones. Together the three deal with drinking and the issues it causes with double-standards and its place as in high school culture, sexual assault, grief and loss, racism and even the ever-pervasive Christian dogma that is omnipresent and often unquestioned (or questioned with piling on shame) that they all are facing, together and separately. Thoughtful and perceptive observations, conversations that mean something, and a true bond is built for these three, upending what seems to be a prevalent notion of teens not being interested or able to dissect the world and the forces that are often placed on them with unexpected consequences. My one issue with the story as a whole was the tendency to get a bit heavy-handed with accentuating the ‘differences’ between the three, and while the ‘not all ___ are bad people message was clear, the organic development of this group of characters highlighted those moments far better than a blatant statement could possibly accomplish. A solid debut sure to please readers who want something a little different from their YA reads. I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility. Review first appeared at I am, Indeed

  25. 4 out of 5

    Gabrielle

    This book was a breeze to get through, but it also packed pretty serious topics and I have realized I enjoy that combination. We get three POVs: Doris, Nell, and Grant. We also get a POV from a purple suitcase, the connection made at the end was just "mhm!" just because I like things that come full circle. Each character has their own "thing." Doris is liberal agnostic, but lives in a small Alabama town with her conservative parents. Doris' friend Maya is Jewish and lesbian which makes people in This book was a breeze to get through, but it also packed pretty serious topics and I have realized I enjoy that combination. We get three POVs: Doris, Nell, and Grant. We also get a POV from a purple suitcase, the connection made at the end was just "mhm!" just because I like things that come full circle. Each character has their own "thing." Doris is liberal agnostic, but lives in a small Alabama town with her conservative parents. Doris' friend Maya is Jewish and lesbian which makes people in the town uncomfortable. Her late Aunt Stel was basically Doris' hero since she related to Stel the most. Nell moved from Illinois and leaves behind her new boyfriend and friends. An event unfortunately arises when her boyfriend, Ashton who is Black visits her. Grant is the disgraced former football star whose drunk driving crime, involving his ex-girlfriend, Chassie gets sweeped away because South + Football = all that matters. He's lost and doesn't know who he is; he thinks he might be an alcoholic and still reeling from his father's affair/new life. But under the store Unclaimed Baggage (is there a store like this lol??? i love thrifting and bargains so!!) all three bond in the summer and it was so wonderful watching the friendships grow. They are there for each other, whenever one has a problem in their life. There is a vague romance, but it doesn't happen until the end. Two people admit they like each other and like that was it. I really loved all the characters, I could see myself being friends with them. (view spoiler)[ I am so glad Grant got help !!! (hide spoiler)] Yay for a Planned Parenthood shoutout! Also there were these cute and tiny illos :) A store like Unclaimed Baggage, I loved seeing all the treasures they stumbled upon in people's suitcases. I found it so funny and cute when Nell started naming them. While I don't see how there could be a sequel, I wouldn't mind revising the characters and their small Alabama town again.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    A fun, sweet book about friendship and finding self-acceptance. An out-of-place liberal in a small, Southern town, a Chicago transplant, and a former football star whose life is coming undone from an alcohol problem. Three people who couldn’t be more different brought together at the unlikeliest of places: Unclaimed Baggage, a store that sells items from the lost luggage found at airports. Although Doris, Nell, and Grant seem completely different, over one summer working in the store room at Unc A fun, sweet book about friendship and finding self-acceptance. An out-of-place liberal in a small, Southern town, a Chicago transplant, and a former football star whose life is coming undone from an alcohol problem. Three people who couldn’t be more different brought together at the unlikeliest of places: Unclaimed Baggage, a store that sells items from the lost luggage found at airports. Although Doris, Nell, and Grant seem completely different, over one summer working in the store room at Unclaimed Baggage, they form an unbreakable bond that will weather anything life can throw at them. This is a really cute book. I had some doubts at first about how quickly the friendship between Doris and Nell progressed (I would’ve preferred for it to be developed more slowly and naturally), but by the end the depth of the relationships between Doris, Nell, and Grant was one of my favorite parts of the book. I became very invested in the characters and their stories, eagerly awaiting to see what happened next—something I always especially appreciate in a split POV books, since that can slow the pacing sometimes. I also could’ve done without the brief interludes toward the beginning from the perspective of lost bags. That just didn’t seem to add much. But, overall, I really enjoyed this book. It was fun and cute. And I appreciated how it acknowledged and even tackled some more serious topics—including ones related to life / culture in the South—throughout. A good read for fans of contemporary YA looking for a cute read that tackles some serious issues— all while maintaining a light and cheerful tone.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Bethany

    A touching YA contemporary, Unclaimed Baggage is about family, friendship, and being true to yourself regardless of your surroundings. Set in small-town Alabama, the story follows three teenagers spending a summer working at Unclaimed Baggage- a store that sells items from long-lost airport luggage. The lost items are woven into the narrative as friendships develop and secrets are uncovered. Doris is a quirky loner with a big heart who feels out of place as a liberal in a conservative town. She i A touching YA contemporary, Unclaimed Baggage is about family, friendship, and being true to yourself regardless of your surroundings. Set in small-town Alabama, the story follows three teenagers spending a summer working at Unclaimed Baggage- a store that sells items from long-lost airport luggage. The lost items are woven into the narrative as friendships develop and secrets are uncovered. Doris is a quirky loner with a big heart who feels out of place as a liberal in a conservative town. She is grieving the loss of her aunt who was the one person who really understood her. Nell is new to town and is missing her friends and boyfriend back in Chicago after her mom's new job required a family move. She unexpectedly finds new friendships while managing a long-distance relationship. Grant is the cute, popular, football star, but he is secretly dealing with alcoholism and a painful breakup. It was a little slow to start, but this was a wonderful book about family and friendship. You don't always get to see stories in YA where the romance takes a backseat to the friendship (though there is romance as well) and families are portrayed positively and realistically, so I really loved seeing that here. It's also about being a teenager where your worldview differs from the people around you, and I think that will be very relatable for a lot of people. This tackles religious hypocrisy, racism and interracial relationships, misogyny, and idolization of football in fairly nuanced ways. It's a great, heartwarming read when you need something positive. Great debut! I received an early copy of this book for review. All opinions are my own.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Alexa Hamilton

    Nell moves to a small town in Alabama with her family from the suburbs of Chicago. Can she make friends? Thankfully, she finds a job at a store that sells stuff from unclaimed baggage at airports, which is where the quirky, liberal-ish, non-racists are in this town. Specifically, Doris, who has been a bit on the outskirts for years. They become best friends. They also befriend Grant, the star football player, who has had some trouble and is working at the store too. There are a number of perspect Nell moves to a small town in Alabama with her family from the suburbs of Chicago. Can she make friends? Thankfully, she finds a job at a store that sells stuff from unclaimed baggage at airports, which is where the quirky, liberal-ish, non-racists are in this town. Specifically, Doris, who has been a bit on the outskirts for years. They become best friends. They also befriend Grant, the star football player, who has had some trouble and is working at the store too. There are a number of perspectives in this book--namely the 3 main characters, plus a little from an unclaimed bag that eventually winds up at the store. There is very little overlap to descriptions of events in each of the three perspectives, which I appreciate. While it's nice seeing the story from everyone's eyes, it can get a little repetitive. All three characters grow throughout the book, as they see the positives and negatives of their own lifestyle and the baggage they have in this small town. Nell, being from afar, doesn't have much baggage. The only thing it is truly missing is any real anger from the characters that gets between them as friends. Teens are fairly emotional due to their brain development, and these three are handling a lot, so it's a little surprising not to have any real nasty fights. On the flip side, who likes to read about those? This is a quick absorbing read, with the added bonus of imagining where lost luggage winds up. Which is really in stores like the one in the book.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sue (BeautyBookCorner)

    3.5 Stars. The plot is a bit messy in parts especially towards the end. I feel like there were a lot of topics that were introduced early on (sexual assault, rape culture, racism, alcoholism, stereotypes of Christians being narrow-minded and hateful, homophobia, etc.) and the author felt like she needed to address them all. But it kind of felt like a checklist after awhile. The beginning chapters were probably the weakest parts of the book for me. Each chapter is a POV of one of the three teens. 3.5 Stars. The plot is a bit messy in parts especially towards the end. I feel like there were a lot of topics that were introduced early on (sexual assault, rape culture, racism, alcoholism, stereotypes of Christians being narrow-minded and hateful, homophobia, etc.) and the author felt like she needed to address them all. But it kind of felt like a checklist after awhile. The beginning chapters were probably the weakest parts of the book for me. Each chapter is a POV of one of the three teens. But the chapters felt like info dumping. The POV is also written in 2nd person. It just felt awkward to me. It was like they were explaining their personality to the reader directly. For example, “My job helps, though, it really does.” Or “That’s the sort if question that can drive you to drink. Two things you shouldn’t do together. Ha. Ha. I know, not funny.” The 2nd person POV gets looser as the story goes on. This is a fast read and I did enjoy reading it despite its little quirks. The setting of the Unclaimed Baggage store was cute and all the scenes in the store were the funniest moments. I liked how all three characters have such a good time together and end up being genuine friends. I was hoping they would stay platonic because the moments of them all just hanging out were really sweet but a romance does form. Overall, enjoyed it and recommend. Also kudos to the graphic designer for the adorable cover!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ab

    An alright read, given it's ya-ness and overall light feel. I liked the gist of this store of unclaimed baggage, and went and found the instagram account of the Scottsboro unclaimed store because I was so delighted by the idea. Even though the book was 'light,' there were several big issues walking around the book, getting addressed in various ways. These include race issues, Southern 'pride' in it's uglier forms, unwanted sexual advances and not being believed, teenage alcoholism, football conc An alright read, given it's ya-ness and overall light feel. I liked the gist of this store of unclaimed baggage, and went and found the instagram account of the Scottsboro unclaimed store because I was so delighted by the idea. Even though the book was 'light,' there were several big issues walking around the book, getting addressed in various ways. These include race issues, Southern 'pride' in it's uglier forms, unwanted sexual advances and not being believed, teenage alcoholism, football concussion issues, Christianity and the exclusion of homosexuals or liberal ideas from the religion, small town small-mindedness especially in relation to religion and race and football, and probably a couple more. This is not exactly surprising for a YA book. They do tend to run the gamut of Big Ideas, though not all get an equal treatment or depth of 'dealing.' This book treated these things in a pretty balanced way, while still keeping the overall feel of the book more positive than negative - THAT is pretty unusual. I loved that the main character, Doris, isthis well-loved 'outcast' of sorts, since she stopped going to church and has a gay friend (the only 'out' girl in town, apparently). Somehow the town still accepts her, to an extent, and her family doesn't go out of its way to disown her, though they do voice differing opinions. All in all, a decent YA book that deals with The Issues, but also doesn't drag you down and pops in some teenage romance. Voila.

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