A really awesome mess is a difficult one for me to review. One half of me enjoyed this book, devouring almost half of it in one sitting, but the other half of me saw that the book was rife with poor understanding of the conditions that the authors were discussing.
The book itself is about Emmy and Justin, and is told in each of their perspectives. They have both been sent to a reform school…or so the blurb indicates. But Heartland Academy is much less a reform school and more a facility for teens who are suffering from an array of mental illnesses. Emmy has developed anorexia after a bad break-up, while Justin has been suffering from depression and also made an attempt on his own life.
There are plenty of mixed reviews on Goodreads, and I can definitely see why. A lot of people seem to be upset at the way the authors portrays some mental illnesses. However in the same instance I don’t believe it was the author’s intention to give us a meaningful insight into these disorders, so that we could come out the other side with a deeper understanding of what these diseases are. I feel like the book focused more on the bonds and friendships that were formed between the characters despite their differences and commonalities. If this was the authors intention she succeeded. For me there was a great sense of companionship between all the kids in the Heartland Academy group.
Personally, I always thought anorexia was more of an inward distortion of your own body image rather than an outward view of others bodies as well as your own…but then again maybe there’s a spectrum and Emmy just sits at a different place than I was expecting.
As for Justin, his character kind of grew on me. I felt like he got somewhere by the end, like he had made this small dent in his journey to helping himself get better.
Overall the book wasn't quite what I had expected. I thought it was going to be about naughty reform school kids getting up to all sorts of mischief, I still got the naughty mischief part, but with a lot more heart than I was expecting.
Things I loved about the book:
- The camaraderie between the Heartland kids, and the misadventures they got up to.
Things I didn't love about the book:
- The seemingly simple and glanced over conditions of the characters. I felt there could have been more depth there, even if the authors weren't aiming for that kind of book.
My rating: 3/5