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A hint of Recovery Road, a sample of Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, and a cut of Juno.
A Really Awesome Mess is a laugh-out-loud, gut-wrenching/heart-warming
story of two teenagers struggling to find love and themselves.
Two teenagers. Two very bumpy roads taken that lead to Heartland Academy.
was just having fun, but when his dad walked in on him with a girl in a
very compromising position, Justin's summer took a quick turn for the
worse. His parents' divorce put Justin on rocky mental ground, and after
a handful of Tylenol lands him in the hospital, he has really hit rock
Emmy never felt like part of her family. She was adopted
from China. Her parents and sister tower over her and look like they
came out of a Ralph Lauren catalog--and Emmy definitely doesn't. After a
scandalous photo of Emmy leads to vicious rumors around school, she
threatens the boy who started it all on Facebook.
Justin and Emmy
arrive at Heartland Academy, a reform school that will force them to
deal with their issues, damaged souls with little patience for
authority. But along the way they will find a ragtag group of teens who
are just as broken, stubborn, and full of sarcasm as themselves. In the
end, they might even call each other friends.
A funny, sad, and
remarkable story, A Really Awesome Mess is a journey of friendship and
self-discovery that teen readers will surely sign up for.
I shouldn't like this book.
I'm not a fan of stories where all of the action happens quickly. I much prefer gradual progression because I have a hard time believing that anyone could form relationships that quickly.
But Justin, Emmy, and the other kids are thrown together into a situation where they are forced to become fast friends and confidants. In an environment such as theirs -- where they are sent by their families to deal with personal issues -- the only people they can rely on are other "difficult" teens.
I'm not a fan of stories where the characters are self-actualized enough to figure out what's been plaguing them with very little effort.
But I had to remind myself that I was reading this YA novel as an adult. Were I still an angsty, depressed teenager, I would have loved reading about their deepest, darkest secrets simply because it would have helped me discover my own.
I am not a fan of stories where there is vulgar language thrown in just for kicks. If it doesn't advance the story, it doesn't need to be a part of the book.
But I tend to forget that teenagers DO throw curse words around for no reason other than to shock and titillate.
And so--even though I shouldn't--I really like this book.
My adult self scoffs at how nicely the story is packaged. But my teen self knows that--even though it moves quickly and neatly--this novel portrays an important reality that could help others get through some tough times.
I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.