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.
Co-authored books is a trend in YA literature that I fully support. In A Really Awesome Mess, Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin have worked together to create two distinct, engaging voices for the narrators, which made it easy to tell who was narrating at all times and made sympathizing with both Justin and Emmy that much easier. The supporting characters’ voices were just as authentic and unique. I can still remember all of their names and problems – which is something that I can’t say for a lot of other books I’ve read.
A Really Awesome Mess manages to touch on heavy themes including eating disorders and depression without sounding “preachy” or melodramatic. The story is infused with snarky humour and ridiculous situations that kept me laughing throughout the ~300 pages and made for a surprisingly fun read.
Thanks to Netgalley for providing me with an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.