Thursday, August 22, 2013

Review: A Really Awesome Mess by Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin

A Really Awesome Mess
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.
Publisher: Egmont USA
Publication Date: July 23, 2013
Kat's Rating
I knew I was going to like this book rom the start. The narrative switches from Emmy to Justin, and both characters are real and interesting and made me care about them from the first pages. We meet each student as they enter Heartland Academy (loving referred to as Assland later in the novel), and over the course of the book we learn more about what landed them in the reform school in the first place. The reader is also introduced to an interesting cast of characters that form the group of friends that help each other move past their issues. There's a compulsive liar, a selective mute, a gambler, and a student with a huge problem with authority.
Despite the serious subject matter, this book is funny. The characters are sarcastic, and witty, and just typical teenagers who happen to be dealing with some tough issues. The language in this novel is authentic and sometimes strong, with references to sex, anorexia, suicide, and mental illness, so if that kind of thing bugs you, this may not be the book for you. Still, I think you would be missing out. The authors manage to take serious topics and approach them with respect, but also with a huge dose of humour.
What I enjoyed most about the book was watching the characters move from a place of denial to one of acceptance of their issues. No one is magically healed by the end of the story, but the progress is evident, and the way the teens look out for each other and help each other get better was one of the book's strengths.
Rating: A Good Read
The authors created characters with great voices and a completely engrossing story to tell. I enjoyed this one and recommend it for anyone looking for an emotional but funny ride.
I received a complimentary copy of this title from NetGalley & the publisher in return for an honest review.


  1. I read maybe the first 20 pages of this and I liked it, but I wasn't motivated to keep going. I've read several other positive reviews in addition to yours though so maybe I need to give it another try. Great review!

  2. I've been meaning to pick this book up and have been putting it off. You're words make me want to run out and buy it RIGHT NOW!!! Great review!

    Alexis @ Lexi Swoons


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