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The F- It List

Average Rating 4.5
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  • Posted December 7, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    I have read books that deal with cancer, but this was totally di

    I have read books that deal with cancer, but this was totally different. Yes, it had an emotional impact, but it was also full of hope. It was lighthearted, while still having an emotional impact. This was not told from the perspective of the person with cancer, but by her best friend, who has just been through her own tragic issues. I loved the idea of the bucket list and Alex trying to complete it for her best friend. She not only is doing something for her friend, but she discovers herself along the way.

    I liked Alex, but some things about her irritated me. She is very selfish at times, but I do get that she is still having a hard time with the things that happened in her life. She at least knows that she is being selfish and feels bad about it. She realizes that her issues are small in comparison to fighting for your life, and not knowing if there is a future. She not only helps her friend and is there for her, but she discovers her own happiness that she didn't think she would find with so much hurt in her life. She fights it, thinking that she doesn't deserve to feel good. She is very broken inside and uses humor and sarcasm to create a wall around her. I felt bad for her and also wanted to yell at her to tell her to stop trying to act like the world can't hurt her. Of course with the help of a romance and her best friend, she is able to let herself out slowly and let that solid wall down bit by bit. Not that it was that easy. In fact, she created more hurt for herself while fighting to keep her feelings and emotions hidden away.

    Leo was a character that I instantly liked. He wasn't overly charming, or one who tries too hard. He gives her what she needs, but doesn't want to push too far. Though he is falling for her, he still tries to play it off for a while like it's just fun like she wants. He has some of his own issues to deal with too, but he knows that she is going through a lot and wants to help her. They have a weird sort of relationship, but it works. I really liked his character. It fit with the confusion and feelings that teenagers go through, especially under the circumstances in this book.

    This book tackles many issues such as family death, cancer, tested friendships, relationships, and family. It wasn't so dramatic that it seems like every other sad tragic book in this genre, it was very light, but very real. I loved that Becca wasn't letting herself completely fall apart, and in fact she was stronger than Alex while she was the one facing cancer and the treatments. She was very funny and it kept the story from seeming too intense and emotional, but the emotion was still there. I think that the most emotional parts of the story were other issues that were tackled. There were moments when I felt like it all might be too much for one book, but it worked since the way things went in the book really do reflect real life. I love contemporary books, and I love finding ones that are light and make you feel good even when there seems to be so much tragedy. A book full of hope in desperate situations was just what I was looking for, and this totally delivered.

    *An advanced copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive any compensation.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 14, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    This book took me completely by surprise. Raw, witty and emotion

    This book took me completely by surprise. Raw, witty and emotional in a way that I just wasn’t expecting. There are so many “cancer books” floating around the YA book world these days and it’s difficult to find one that brings something fresh to the table and I was pleasantly surprised to find that The F-It List did just that.

    What really worked for me was that the story wasn’t some heartbreaking, emotional roller-coaster about the tragic effect cancer has on Becca and everyone in her life. Instead it’s a story that focuses on Alex’s journey and her learning how to come out of her head, deal with her own survivor’s guilt and be a better friend/sister/daughter/etc. Becca having cancer and asking for Alex’s help with her F-It List is what propels Alex on her journey of self-growth but does not overshadow it, which turned The F-It List into a story whose overall message was hopeful and uplifting rather than cry me a bucket full of tragedy tears, which was a nice change. It was nice to read a story that focused on all sides of the effect cancer has.

    Halpern’s writing was very well-balanced. It managed to be funny and emotional without being overpoweringly sad, and the plot moved at the perfect pace. However, the characters are the shining glory of this book. They were well-developed, smart, witty, and unflinchingly real and all just so likable. It’s rare for me to come across a book where I love and appreciate every character, from the major to the minor, but Halpern accomplished that in this book.

    Alex was so easy for me to relate to, despite her obsession with gross horror movies. She’s full of spark and attitude, but underneath that tough demeanor is a girl who is lost and suffering from some serious survivor’s guilt-both from her father’s death and because of Becca’s cancer. A lot of the book focuses on her feeling guilty over being healthy while Becca isn’t, and her coming to terms with this and discovering that it’s okay to be happy, to have nice things. Becca is almost the exact opposite of Alex. Bright and bubbly and full of life, despite her illness. I loved the way her and Alex balanced each other, and the fact that the two shared a real friendship. The tragedy of YA books for me is that they rarely portray real, honest, BFF relationships between two girls but The F-It List did not disappoint me.

    Alex and Becca genuinely care about each other, and it shows. I loved that they were both nerds (I fangirled over every BSG reference) and perverted and so obviously were willing to do anything for each other, despite the estrangement they suffered from early in the book. The scene where Alex shaved Becca’s head especially had me all chocked up on the feels. I loved that this book also showed two girls being intrigued by and enjoying sex in such a healthy, honest way. I know this may come as a surprise to some people but most teenage (and adult) women are perverts. We like sex and we like to talk and joke about sex and I loved that this book showed that in a healthy, honest way.

    Leo. Oh sweet, awkward, adorable Leo. I ADORED the relationship between Alex and Leo. Some may say that it developed a little too quickly but I actually thought it was pretty realistic. I knew plenty of people, especially in high school, who would go from just starting to talk to a guy/girl to fooling around with them the same day. Again, I thought Halpern handled the sex issue very realistically and healthily here. And while I may have absolutely DESPISED the way Alex treated him at times, I could definitely see it from her point of view and why she was afraid to let him too deep into her life.

    The F-It List was a fun, engaging and uplifting story filled with refreshingly realistic characters and a unique take on the “cancer” theme that I will happily recommend to everyone I know.

    I received my copy of The F-It List as an eARC free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchan e for an honest review.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 26, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    While this book is emotional for sure because of the inherent em

    While this book is emotional for sure because of the inherent emotional responses, there is also romance, surprising amount of humor, and a main character that I fell for. Alex is caring and loyal, but she is one to deal with her emotions on the inside rather than the outside like her best friend Becca. She has this way of communicating that makes me smile because she is honest and to the point. While she has some self confidence, she knows that she has things to work on, and I just saw a lot of myself in her. Alex also has other things in her life that need her attention, she just lost her father, and her mom is having a hard time with most of her attention focused on Alex's younger twin brothers. 
    The friendship between Alex and Becca felt really authentic. As the synopsis says, Becca had slept with Alex's boyfriend, and although a huge trangression, Becca was mourning as well, and Alex wasn't deeply madly in love with the guy, so Becca had decided that friendship was more important, and was going to put it behind them when she found out that Becca has cancer. This is a pretty potent glue that drew them back together like nothing had happened negative, only the positive memories, loyalty and trust that had built through the years. 
    The F-It List was the central focus, and it really worked some character development as well as self realization into Alex through completing some of the items for Becca. 
    The writing is encompassing and I wanted to keep reading even when the outside world called my name. 
    Also, I will say that there is swearing and sexual references. I am wondering if this should be on the line of New Adult. But it didn't bother me, I think that it is something that kids in high school legitimately deal with, talk about, and therefore can be YA. I just know that some people expect only kissing and hand holding, and this might be a shock if not prepared. So, older and mature teens only. 
    I enjoyed the romance between Leo and Alex, and I think he is what helped Alex to feel like could still be happy and normal even in the midst of all of the tragedy. It is what makes life worth living, and is something to hold on to. 
    The ending is perfect in ways that I can't list without spoiling, but it was just right for the book. 

    Bottom Line: Emotional, realistic journey with surprising humor and quirkiness from a strong and likable main character.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2014


    She falls onto the bed with him kissing him. "Can you post your bio at the next res?"

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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