The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle_Book Review_Berryduchess cover

Genre: Fiction /Contemporary Romance / Magical Realism
Published Date: Sept 2018
Date Finished Reading: 07 Nov 2018


We’ve been waiting for an hour. That’s what Audrey says. She states it with a little bit of an edge, her words just bordering on cursive. That’s the thing I think first. Not: Audrey Hepburn is at my birthday dinner, but Audrey Hepburn is annoyed.

When Sabrina arrives at her thirtieth birthday dinner she finds at the table not just her best friend, but also three significant people from her past, and well, Audrey Hepburn. As the appetizers are served, wine poured, and dinner table conversation begins, it becomes clear that there’s a reason these six people have been gathered together.

The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle_Book Review_Berryduchess 2.jpeg


Let me say that I had a huge anticipation for this book because it’s one of the most Instagrammed books over the past months. I got curious when I read the synopsis and gave it a shot.

The story was about having a once in a lifetime chance to be with the people you have unfinished business or unresolved issues with. In Sabrina’s dinner list she had:

Robert, her father who “abandoned” them when she was a child. She always hated her dad because in her memory, Robert left and started another family. But Sabrina learned that there’s a deeper story and what she knew was just the crust of the pie.

At one point or another, we’ve all been asked to name five people, living or dead, with whom we’d like to have dinner. Why do we choose the people we do? And what if that dinner was to actually happen?

Her unfinished business with Robert: FORGIVENESS.

Then there’s her college professor, Conrad. She always looked up to him and felt that in his ways, he took care of her in her University days. The third is Audrey Hepburn, her favourite actress and whose movies had significance in her life.

Now comes Jessica, her best friend and Sabrina’s unresolved issue with her is that she felt Jess is slipping away in her life because of her new family & married life. She’s having a hard time accepting that people change and that includes her best friend. She’s now a wife & a mother and her priorities are changing too.

With Jessica, she needed ASSURANCE.

Last is Tobias, the love of her life and their story’s complicated.

The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle_quote on dream relationship

They’ve been together for 9 years; broke off once but they found their second chance only to separate again.


Sabrina is my least favourite lead character in a novel. She’s got flaws and while it makes her a good depiction of a real person, she’s got a weak persona. And I don’t like weak lead characters. It annoys me. Seriously!

Sabrina’s immature, selfish, indecisive and always go with the flow. She’s afraid to speak her mind, even if she’s hurting and she has a wrong perception of love.

In my opinion, her relationship with Tobias can’t really work out because of a lot of things:

First, she always had doubts and reservations when it comes to their relationship. She never communicated her “other” feelings to Tobias. They fight, won’t talk for a while and then sleep. The next day, they act as if nothing happened. They don’t talk about what happened because they’re afraid to hurt each other and they only want na happy lang.

Relationships can’t work with just the good stuff; the happy memories. People need to grow and at times, telling the other person what they need to do isn’t nagging, it’s because you care. And if they care about you too, they’ll understand. Sometimes, the people we love needs a little push or a nudge to put them back on track. Tough love ain’t bad. Not at all.

It also showed how she underestimated Tobias' love for her. She's afraid to say something because he might not take it well. She lacks the trust & confidence for him and their relationship.

Second, she’s selfish. When Tobias landed a good opportunity in California, she’s willing to break up agad-agad and I already know why. She’s too afraid to be left behind just like the way her dad did to her mom so inunahan na niya si Tobias. She’s not willing to compromise, she never looked at other possibilities to work things out. Her only resolution was to break up.

Third, she doesn’t know what she wants. After breaking up with Tobias, she met Paul and dated for 2 years. When Paul professed his love to her, she accepted and stayed in the relationship even if she doesn’t really love Paul. Then one day, Tobias knocked on her door with all his things and asking if she wants to take him back. And yep, she did. So ang ending, she told Paul that she’s ending things between them because Tobias came back. Ouch di’ ba! I mean, ganun lang yun??? nakakaloka! Magkasama pa  sila sa bahay ng lagay na yan ha! What I’m trying to say is, because she doesn’t know what she wants, she ended up hurting other people.

they love each other but didn’t grow in the relationship

Jessica was correct, they love each other but didn’t grow in the relationship and that’s really sad. Imagine, 9 years! And all she ever wanted was to have an epic relationship but she failed to understand that a real relationship is a lot of work.

Tobias, on the other hand, is also flawed. An artist by heart and profession and it took him a while to find himself. He loved Sabrina so much that at times, he’s drowningthe expectations, the lack of words and the love. At some point, he admitted na nahihirapan rin siya kasi Sabrina thinks highly of him. He felt that he can’t afford and shouldn’t make mistakes so as not to disappoint Sabby. Yung ang problema nila, pakiramdaman sila. Siyam na taong pakiramdaman! Hala sila! I think Tobias also needed some assurance that Sabby will never leave his life, no matter what happens. He’s too afraid to lose her again like the first time when she decided to break up.


I know that I’m not an expert but I’m speaking here as a reader who knows what she wants. I love reading novels but not every author will be a match to what you’re looking for, And I had that with Serle, at least on the first few chapters. I was about to give up because the first few pages were full of one-liners!

Here’s an example:

"Jessica shakes her head. "This is your dinner." My list. She knows, of course. She was there when I made it. It was her idea. the five people, living or dead, you'd like to have dinner with."

I was at the verge of giving up, just like when I was reading The Glitch by Elisabeth Cohen but thankfully, I pushed it and I found the light at the end of the tunnel. When I resumed my reading, I skipped some of the phrases & just read the dialogues and mind you, it made a difference!

But really, things became better as I moved forward and so is her writing style. If only she did that on the first few chapters, ‘di ba! Pwede naman pala, ‘teh! Plus, there was something that really surprised me. It’s somewhere in Chapter 12. I literally mouthed “OMG!” because I was shookt! #millenials


It’s the first book that I’ve read that had a lot of character mentions. At times, nalito na’ko.

The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle_quote on life's certainties


Towards the end of the book, I felt heartbroken with how the things unfold. At some point, I can relate especially on the part when she had to let go. This is one of my sad reads for this year and I think I’m not ready to go thru another sad novel after this. I am giving this 3 stars out of 5.

The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle_Book Review_Berryduchess

About the Author

REBECCA SERLE is an author and television writer who lives between New York and Los Angeles. Serle most recently co-developed the hit TV adaptation of her young adult series Famous in Love, now on Freeform. She loves Nancy Meyers films, bathrobes, and giving unsolicited advice on love.

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xoxo roma

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