Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Review- A Really Awesome Mess (Trish Cook & Brendan Halpin)

A Really Awesome Mess


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 

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.

As for the main characters at first I really didn’t like Emmy, she was just too up herself, and for me and just didn’t seem to fit the anorexic/bulimia profile that I expected. She came off as a spoilt brat, who liked to fat shame other people in her head. 

"I stared at her like she was from another planet. To me, she actually was: The Planet F-A-T. I felt sorry for her. If I still felt this bad after losing twenty pounds, she must absolutely despise herself."
Trish Cook & Brendan Halpin (A Really Awesome Mess)

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. 

"How do you get through it?” He was asking about my latest downturn, but I guessed the question could apply to life, too. And I didn’t know the answer."
Trish Cook & Brendan Halpin (A Really Awesome Mess)

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

Do you ever go into a book expecting one thing and getting something completely different?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...