Review: The F-It List – Julie Halpern

Review: The F-It List – Julie HalpernThe F- It List by Julie Halpern
Published by Macmillan
Published: November 12th 2013
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four-stars

Alex’s father recently died in a car accident. And on the night of his funeral, her best friend Becca slept with Alex’s boyfriend. So things aren’t great. Alex steps away from her friendship with Becca and focuses on her family.

But when Alex finally decides to forgive Becca, she finds out something that will change her world again—Becca has cancer.

So what do you do when your best friend has cancer? You help her shave her head. And then you take her bucket list and try to fulfill it on her behalf. Because if that’s all you can do to help your ailing friend—you do it.

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When I read the description I was like ‘another cancer book? When will the sadness end?’. But as I started to hear more and more about it and hear some rave reviews I figured, what’s some more sad book?! And after reading it I can 100% honestly say there is nothing depressing about The F-It List. This book was like no other cancer book I’ve read. It was funny and edgy and gritty and filled with foul language that made it honest and a joy to read.

The F-It List is the story of Alex and her best friend Becca. The summer before senior year tragedy strikes Alex’s family and the result of the tragedy leaves Becca and Alex estranged for the whole summer. After having some space and time to think Alex is ready to forgive Becca only once again her world collapses when she learns the unthinkable has happened, Becca has been diagnosed with cancer. Ignoring all the petty stuff that went down Alex is by Becca’s side. And when Becca tells her friend about her sort of bucket list, enlisting her help in fulfilling the items Alex not only learns stuff about her friend and herself, but she may just find her first love.

Alex may be one of my all time favorite female characters. There is no denying she is crass and abrasive and thinks before she speaks. She can be cold and heartless and down right mean. But underneath all of that there was a girl in pain that wasn’t sure how to cope. Her world was turned around and she dealt by shutting down and pushing people away. It was how she got through the hard stuff. And as wrong as it seems, it is also all the stuff I loved about her. The fact that she was able to speak her mind, even if her delivery left something to be desired, was really want I found endearing. She was blunt and that worked in this book. It worked really well. It took the potential depressingness of the story and made it an enjoyable read.

I also really enjoyed the dynamic between Becca and Alex and Leo and Alex. When the book first started I didn’t think I would like Becca based on her actions. I mean you read one bad friend book, you read them all. But it was actually the relationship between Alex and Becca that I was enthralled with. The two of them together were this kind of magic that is rare to find in books sometimes. They had a true friendship that had its teenaged ups and downs, but they were there for each other with no questions asked. And Leo and Alex were all sorts of great together. They were similar without being a like. I guess they just kind of clicked in some weird, obscure way that made them work. Leo was perfect for Alex and Alex for Leo and I could have read a whole 100 pages more about them. Actually I could have read a whole other book.

What I really loved the most about The F-It List was that Halpern went there. She didn’t mince words or dance around stuff that teenagers do and talk about. She didn’t write the book thinking that teens couldn’t handle it. She used sex and foul language and adult situations. She crafted a book that was not only fun to read but honest and edgy. This may have been my first foray into Julie Halpern’s writing but it won’t be my last. If you don’t mind strong langue and sexual situations then I highly recommend this one for you.

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