Thursday, July 25, 2013

A Really Awesome Mess, by Trish Cook & Brendan Halpin

Barnes & Noble

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.

Justin 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 bottom.

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.

1 comment:

  1. Okay first of all I love your review for this book. Now that that is out of the way, I totally agree with you. I love watching relationships unfold slowly. But from what you said and from the description it sounds that the author chose to write this story like that on purpose to make it even better and that definitely sounds interesting. Even though I'm a teen I hate reading books with tons of swearing in them. It always feels like I hear that stuff all day at school why should I hear it at home too? Normally it's enough to knock off a starburst sometimes when the book is right I don't mind the swearing. Overall this definitely sounds like a great book and I will definitely be checking it out! (Sorry for this really long comment that may not make lots of sense. I've been really rambly today...)