Saturday, August 10, 2013

A Really Awesome Mess

A Really Awesome Mess by Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin
Publication Date: July 23, 2013
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Pages: 288
Keywords: boarding school, counseling, mental illness
Format Read: NetGalley
Other Books Read by Authors: Notes from the Blender

Summary: 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 all 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. 

I was skeptical of starting this one because I only mildly liked the other one these two co-wrote. But it showed up on NetGalley and the cover is super cute, so I requested and read it. It was SO MUCH BETTER than their other book! I was so pleasantly surprised with how much improvement I saw in the writing, flow between the chapters, and the characters and their development.

I'll start with the characters. I really enjoyed reading about Justin and Emmy. They both had super interesting back stories that were slowly developed and revealed throughout the course of the book. And even though I didn't really like Emmy's character, she was still a good one to read about. I had a problem with her because she constantly seemed like she was shooting others down and always on the defensive, even when there were zero reasons to be after her new friends proved themselves over and over. But it got better and she wasn't a total downer all the time.

I also loved some side stories that happened along the way. So there was this girl named Jenny, who was Emmy's roommate and didn't talk and had pig decorations everywhere. And then the whole group (these two, Justin, and several other weird awesome people, were in anger management together) went to the state fair and some really cool stuff went down there that was only sort of a side plot, but it was so hilarious and weird. I adored this side story, and it was so well woven with the main characters and what was actually happening in the book. Everything just worked really well together

I was impressed with how much better the writing style and quality was in this book compared to the last. Sentences made more sense, chapters flowed in the correct order, and their switches from Justin's view to Emmy's weren't abrupt or confusing. Overall, definitely pleased with this book.

Read When: You need a light, fun-hearted read that deals with serious stuff in a humorous way.

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