The F- It List – Julie Halpern


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 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.


Halpern’s decision to censor the title meant NOTHING. Alex swears like a sailor, and pervy statements make up a majority of the book.

At the same time, Alex’s voice was pretty refreshing. She didn’t always know what to say, and there were repercussions for that. She had trouble being vulnerable. She was pretty morbid at times. And she had a lot of stuff thrown at her, but she got through it all.

And for once, a friendship was more important than a relationship. The blurb may make it seem like the whole Becca/Davis situation would be a big deal, but it wasn’t. Alex and Becca were more important to each other than ANY guy in between (she forgave Becca before the cancer discovery, anyway). They had a lot of baggage between them, but they embraced each other’s faults. What more could you ask for in a friend?

I couldn’t really fault Alex for being pretty distant from almost everyone else at her school. She had other friends, but they didn’t really matter. They were all kind of auxiliary. Same with her workplace. A lot of the story was about time passing by to deal with problems. The depiction of cancer was fairly good, although a little on the dark side throughout. The ending was spot-on though: after getting test results, being cancer-free doesn’t mean it’s over. There are still more check-ups and more time required to be closely monitored. But at least life can get back to normal. Well, normal plus Caleb. Did I mention that Caleb was the best?!

For some reason, I didn’t find Leo that attractive. It took away some of the magic from the lovey-dovey scenes, but by the end I could see how the two of them worked with each other. More than sex and gore, anyway… hah!

I’m glad we got insight to the families too. I felt bad for CJ and AJ (they weren’t even that cringe-y, considering they were in the awkward middle school years). Alex had a good mom. Becca’s mom coped in her own way. And even though we hardly saw them, we still understood the skewed relationship between Leo, his parents, and his brother. I didn’t really notice this until the end, but the little details drastically improved the story.

Related Reading

  • Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – Jesse Andrews
  • Something Like Normal – Trish Doller
  • Funny books about death and disease (particularly cancer)

Rating: 3.5/5


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