Like The Bucket List, But Without Jack Nicholson: ‘The F-It List’ by Julie Halpern

Do you ever read a book and think, “Why isn’t EVERYONE talking about how awesome this book is?” That’s how I felt after finishing Julie Halpern’s The F-It List.

I reviewed her book Into the Wild Nerd Yonder a few months ago, and it was incredibly hilarious and sweet. Now that I’ve read The F-It List, I’m officially a member of the Julie Halpern fan club (well, maybe not officially…I don’t have a membership card or anything).

The F-It List starts strong, with the lines, “The only thing worse than having my best friend sleep with my boyfriend the night of my father’s funeral would be if she killed my dad herself. Becca didn’t, which was the one thing that redeemed her.” Luckily, Alex and Becca reconcile, but not before Becca is diagnosed with cancer. It’s a highly treatable cancer, but Becca’s still (understandably) freaked out. That’s when she shares her bucket list with Alex. Becca’s been keeping it since she was a kid, and now that her mortality is on her mind, she wants Alex to help her accomplish the goals. The first order of business, though, is renaming the list, since “bucket list” is sort of lame. So F-It List it is! You can USE YOUR IMAGINATIONS and also your knowledge of rhyme to figure out what the ‘F’ stands for.

As Becca goes through chemo, Alex tries to accomplish as many goals as she can. Some of them are easy (eat a hot pepper), but most of them are much more involved. But Alex, who still isn’t over her own father’s death less than a year ago, wants to do whatever she can to make Becca happy. While she’s missing her dad and afraid that Becca might die, she meets Leo Dietz.

Leo is a tall, red-haired, army-jacket wearing, cigarette-smoking horror movie fan. In other words, his appearance pretty much screams “YA bad boy.” But surprisingly, Leo Dietz is a pretty nice guy. He might even be too nice for Alex. In between everything else she has to deal with, Alex isn’t sure she can handle falling for Leo. Will she mess up one of the good things in her life because she’s so worried about the bad things?

I tore through The F-It List. Do you like books that feature a lot of jokes, a lot of swearing, a lot of sex and non-cheesy friendships? And do you like books that are about cancer AND love and somehow manage to not be overly saccharine? Then this is the book for you! I’m pretty much head over heels for Julie Halpern’s writing now and I’ll be reading everything she’s ever written.

SOME HIGHLIGHTS: -I loved all the mentions of horror movies in The F-It List. In fact, showings of Evil Dead are pivotal to Alex and Leo’s relationship. They even get to meet Bruce Campbell himself! I don’t know how exciting this is to you guys, but I happened to have a picture of Bruce Campbell in my locker in high school (I’ve mentioned before that I was a weird kid…don’t judge me) and Evil Dead was also a big part of my relationship with my first boyfriend. What’s more romantic than a super-gory film set in a cabin in the middle of the woods? Nothing, probably! I don’t know, you guys should maybe not ask me for advice. “You should go see Evil Dead!” might be the worst dating advice ever.

-Alex is one of the coolest YA heroines I’ve read. She’s just so badass and unafraid of anything (except for, you know, LOVE) that I can’t help wishing I was a little bit more like her. She and Becca have a friendship unlike any other I’ve read about. They’re not always traditionally “good” friends to each other (I mean, Becca slept with Alex’s boyfriend, which is basically flunking Friendship 101), but they’re still always there for each other when it counts. Also, they’re so mean and funny in a way that’s hilarious to read.

-Leo Dietz is a total Marcus Flutie, which is probably the single best compliment I could ever give a YA love interest. He’s a high school rebel with a heart of gold!

What about you guys? Have you read The F-It List or any of Julie Halpern’s other books? Let me know in the comments! As always, I love to hear your suggestions for books to feature in Young Adult Education. Leave a comment, email me at, or find me on Twitter @KerryAnn.

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