Monday, December 16, 2013

The F-It List by Julie Halpern

Title: The F-It List
Author: Julie Halpern
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Release Date: November 12, 2013
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
With her signature heart and humor, Julie Halpern explores a strained friendship strengthened by one girl's battle with cancer.

Alex's father recently died in a car accident. And on the night of his funeral, her best friend Becca sleep 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.

I have loved the sheer number of contemporary books that have come out this year, and I have been trying to read as many of them as possible. And so I found myself reading Julie Halpern's The F-It List. And though it wasn't a favourite, I still thoroughly enjoyed this story.

Alex and Becca have been bed friends for as long s they can remember. Until Becca sleeps with Alex's boyfriend at Alex's dad's funeral. Alex has taken the summer to cool off and is ready to forgive Becca and go back to being friend. In their time apart, Becca found out she has cancer, and now she needs Alex's help. A long time ago, Becca started writing a bucket list , and now that the end could be near, she needs help completing it. And what else can Alex do but help? And who knows, maybe in the process Alex will find a way to move on from her father's death and start living again.

When I first read the synopsis for Julie Halpern's The F-It List, it sounded like a fun story. Granted someone just lost a paren,t and someone else has cancer, but still, the story is all about completing a bucket list. As I started reading, I realized that the story was definitely fun, but it was also a lot heavier than I thought it was going to be. A lot of that had to do with who Alex was as a person, since she was the one telling this story. As a result, this was a story about grief. But it was also a story about a girl getting past that grief and larding to live again. And, of course, this was a story about friendship and about different kinds of love. I really enjoyed seeing Alex and Becca's friendship change and evolve over the course of the story. And there were also all the other relationships in the story: Alex's relationship with her mother and brothers, Becca's relationship with her cancer, Alex's relationship with Leo, Becca's relationship with Caleb. And seeing all these relationships play out was what made this story interesting to me.

Alex was the kind of character I love: she was snarky, a little dark and definitely cynical. And she had a lot of baggage. I really enjoyed seeing her grow and evolve as a person. She was able to come to terms with her dad's death, with Becca's cancer, and with her feelings for Leo. Ultimately, what Alex needed was to realize that she was allowed to be happy, no matter what else was going on around her. And ultimately, Becca and her bucket list really helped with all that. And Leo too. Leo wasn't exactly the conventional love interest, but that didn't stop me from liking him. Leo challenged Alex, he didn't always do it in the best ways, but he made her go out of her comfort zone. At the end of the day, it was just about Alex learning more about herself, and how to start living again.

Julie Halpern's The F-It List was different than what I had expected, and that may have been for the best. While it may not be one of my favourite books this year, it was a story I really enjoyed and one I would also recommend.

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