August 15, 2013

A Really Awesome Mess by Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin

 I received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley. 

Description: 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.

My Review: I'm always nervous about stories with alternate narrators because sometimes you can't really distinguish between the characters. However, that was not the case here. Emmy (love that name!) and Justin  have unique voices and they both acted like real teenagers. 

The extended cast of characters was an interesting bunch, and all the teens at Heartland came to life as we got to know more about their backstories. I appreciated the bonds that they formed and the ways that they worked together to help one another overcome their problems. 

Personally, I had a few issues with the way that eating disorders were portrayed, and I felt like the romantic relationship was unnecessary to the story as I was far more interested in Emmy's relationships with her family members. Overall, though,  I was entertained by this book and ending up laughing quite a few times and rooting for the characters to work out their issues. I think teens will like it! 


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