Review: The F- It List - Julie Halpern

Release Date: November 12th 2013
Published By: Feiwel & Friends
Pages: 256
Goodreads: Add it to your reading list

Rating: 4 out of 5

Synopsis: Alex and Becca have always been best friends. But when Becca does something nearly unforgivable at Alex’s dad’s funeral, Alex cuts ties with her and focuses on her grieving family.

Time passes, and Alex finally decides to forgive Becca. Then she’s hit with another shocker: Becca has cancer. It also turns out Becca has a bucket list, one she doesn’t know she’ll be able to finish now. That’s where Alex comes in, along with a mysterious and guarded boy who just may help Alex check a few items off her own bucket list.

Julie Halpern writes about illness, loss, love, and friendship with candor and compassion. Here is an unforgettable book about living fully, living authentically, and just . . . living.

Review: The F- It List was very different to what I expected – in the best possible way. I think anytime I hear a book is about cancer I am a little bit reluctant to read it. Really, who wants to feel depressed? I was pleasantly surprised with this story. Whilst this story is about a girl supporting her best friend who has just found out she has cancer, the cancer itself plays a backseat role to the bigger plot.

I really liked the way this book was written. Whilst I don’t think this book is appropriate for young teens, as an adult I enjoyed it. There was quite a lot of swearing, drugs and sex themes throughout – but I liked it because this is how teenagers can be. The way these characters spoke to each other felt real and there was a real sense of truth about this. And because the story was told in such a believable way, I found myself sucked into it even more.

Slow clap for the author too – I am going out on a limb here by wondering if Julie Halpern is a nerdy gal? Because from one nerd to another, I LOVED the pop culture references throughout. Amazing. Comics, Battlestar Gallactica, Dead Winter Con, horror movie references GALLORE. They meet Bruce Campbell from the Evil Dead trilogyfor crying out loud!! I was right in my element, and every time Ms Halpern dropped another reference, I won’t lie, I geeked out a bit. Unexpected! I didn’t realise that I’d be in for such a treat when I picked this up, but unexpected surprises like this are the best in my opinion.

It was these things as well as the attitudes of our characters that made this book much lighter to read given it’s heavy themes of cancer, death and loss. Becca, whilst very very sick with cancer is determined to still live her life to the fullest with their bucket (F- It) list. Determined not to let it get them down Becca and Alex’s conversations made this book for me. I loved the humour in their interactions so much.

I really thought the Leo and Alex relationship was fantastic. It wasn’t all sunshine and lollipops for them. Alex still has her emotional guards up after her father died suddenly, and we also see Leo going through some very real emotional hurdles and dealing with loss as well. Alex also struggled internally, consumed by guilt she was feeling about spending time with Leo, and for having fun when she felt she needed to be by Becca’s side and I thought this element of the book hit the nail on the head and added another layer of realism to this book.

Overall, this is a quick and engrossing read that makes you think and feel long after you finish reading the book. The characters felt so real and because of that I really connected with them. Definitely worth the read!

What do you think?

  • Samantha says:

    I’ve been intrigued by the title of this book for some time and your review is really positive, touching on a lot of things that I personally enjoy in books - especially the geeky pop culture references!

  • I loved this book too! I really like how Alex and Becca were freaking hilarious and the romance was awesome. I also liked Alex & Leo’s relationship. It wasn’t insta-love and was very realistic. I also like how Caleb sends love notes to Becca. That is so cute! The ending was sooo cool. I just love how it wrapped up. I just finished reading this yesterday and will write my review later on :)

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