Genre: YA, Contemporary/Realistic Fiction, Cancer,
Published: November 12th, 2013 by Feiwel and Friends
Hardcover, 256 pages
How I Got This Book: Checked it out from the library
Why I Picked It Up?: A bucket list book? Count me in!!!
Book Jacket Blurb: “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.”
When I saw this on the book-o-sphere, I was really excited about it! I mean, come on, a bucket list YA book! This totally has potential! Unfortunately, at least for me, this book fell short. What I thought was going to be a let’s do a bucket-list hurrah! book ended up being a “what the mess is all of this mess?!” book.
First of all, this book is slated as a realistic fiction novel. Great! But just how real was this realistic fiction book? There were some serious flaws with the realism of this situation for me, which made me just roll my eyes. First, what parent would not call the mother of her child’s best friend to inform them that her child has cancer?!?! I mean, even if the friends are fighting, there is still a parent in the picture who should have enough sense to let her daughter’s best friend know that something is going on. Seriously? Does this really happen? Secondly, these kids are supposed to be in high school?….Is this really what high school has become?!? Because this was not what high school was like for me or anyone I know (in terms of what they do, not what happens to them). To me, these are the actions and attitudes of college-age kids, not high schoolers. But maybe times-are-a-changing more than I thought… =\ But nevertheless, the high-school age setting just didn’t match the content of the book for me, which gave me a bad vibe.
And then you have Alex and Becca. Their best friendship is not something to be immulated at all. There is no foundation for anything, even before Becca gets cancer. In fact, the first chapter outlines all the horrible things they have done to each other in the past. Doesn’t sound like a friendship that I would want to have to me. I appreciate Alex’s struggle with dealing with her “BFF”‘s cancer, trying to feel horrible for her while trying not to live in such devastation herself all the time. But the principles of friendship are not present in this relationship to begin with, and this friendship doesn’t grow anywhere. It stays the same like it is perfectly okay to be like this. And sure, you could argue that “they are in high school”….but this kind of friendship is very middle school to me. By high school, you typically know you are supposed to treat your best friend with respect and consideration. Or else you grow a part, and that is okay too. But this whole stagnant best-friendship is just not very real to me, either.
The thing that really bothered me is that I didn’t care about anyone in this story, which is a wonder why I finished the book at all. So I guess maybe I cared about Becca enough to read the end of the story. But otherwise, the characters were just fillers. I had no emotional connection to anything in this book at all. I didn’t care about anyone, I didn’t connect with anyone. I was just full of apathy, and I hate that. THIS IS A BOOK ABOUT CANCER, I SHOULD BE FEELING SOMETHING! But alas, I just didn’t.
And this “romance”…..it is backwards. Leo is a guy I really didn’t care for all that much, but at least he shows some true feelings. And you know, I actually see the realism in a relationship that develops like this–completely backwards from the norm. But I just felt no growth from Alex with this relationship, either. It was like she wasn’t even trying, she didn’t care, and then….PRESTO! I LOVE HIM! No, no you don’t. Go away.
Apparently, I just really didn’t like Alex. If Alex had been Stacy, maybe I would have like her more.
I do have to say though, while this was not the bucket-list book I wanted to read, the bucket-list aspect of the book was really sweet. I really enjoyed the dynamic that list brought to the story. It was the only redeeming quality of the book for me, which is why I finished it.
Fair warning: This book was extremely crass, and with no reason. Normally, if using language like that adds to the character development or story arc, I don’t mind it. But in this book, using such strong expletives all the time added nothing but more frustration for me. All it did was perpetuate the lack of real friendship.
Overall, I just didn’t connect with this story at all. Everything was blah. Meeeeh. The end.
My Bookshelf Rating:
I finished this book because I wanted to see how it ended. But the entire time I was reading it, I found myself not really caring about anyone in this book at all. While Julie Halpern depicts the emotional strains on relationships during tragic times realistically, the foundations for the relationships in this book are not good at all. I found this book to be extremely crass, which I was not expecting from a YA contemporary, and I don’t think I liked it at all. It did not play any important role in character or story development. This book was honestly just a bunch of MEEEEEEEEEEEEHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH, which makes me sad because I thought it could be quite good.
Love and Snuggies,