Alex takes the summer off from her best friend, Becca, after Becca sleeps with Alex's boyfriend at Alex's father's funeral (I said there was drama). This is no big deal in part because Alex wasn't really 'in love' with said boyfriend. Besides Alex and Becca have forgiven each other numerous transgressions over the many years of their friendship, so it's a given that Alex will forgive Becca come the first day of school. Right now she just needs space to process her father's death and to attend to her family as well as some distance from the inherent drama that Becca brings (she is a budding actress after all).
When Alex returns to school an acquaintance drops a bombshell: Becca was diagnosed with cancer over the summer. The news sends Alex reeling, and now it's even more important that the two friends reconcile. When Alex visits Becca at home, the girls waste no time repairing their broken friendship. Then Becca shares with Alex a list she's been keeping for years--it's a list of things that Becca wants to do before she dies. Of course Becca never thought her death might be this soon, and with the chemotherapy and other cancer treatment she'll have to endure in the fight for her life, she won't have the strength to complete the more taxing items on the list. That's where Alex comes in. Becca entrusts her friend with the list and asks her to help complete it.
While continuing to process her father's death (something that is for the most part relegated to background of the story), and now her best friend's illness (something that is at the forefront of the story), a new romance blossoms between Alex and boy she's liked for a long time named Leo. But Leo wants a relationship which is something Alex is determined to avoid at all costs because it's too much more complication in her already complicated life. There are also other underlying issues holding Alex back from embarking on her first true romance that must be dealt with.
These are some heavy issues in this slim novel, but the story never feels too heavy thanks to the lightness of the writing and the depiction of the characters of Alex, Becca and Leo--all of whom maintain witty, sometimes dark, senses of humor. People who enjoy young adult fiction will enjoy this novel.
--Reviewed by Ms. Angie