A Really Awesome Mess by Brendan Halpin and Trish Cook

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Title: A Really Awesome Mess

Authors: Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

Number of Pages (eBook): 288 pages

Date Published: July 23rd of 2013

Publisher: Egmont USA

Synopsis (via GoodReads page here): 

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.

Rate: 3 of 5

*Get a copy from The Book Depository*


I don’t know what the deal about this book is but it seems as if many hated it. But strangely, I didn’t hate it. It was okay. Not bad, but also not something that blew my mind away, you know. Just the weird grey space between “Ooooh, this is amazing.” and “Oh my god. This. Is. The. Worst.” The 1-star ratings in GoodReads just made me want to read it more so that I would know what the deal with this is. I still don’t understand the hate. Okay, I do. A little.

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I LOVED the fact that the main character is a Chinese girl. It’s not everyday that I read a book with a main character that’s non-White. The angle of her character seems very interesting, too, I must say. A Chinese-born adopted by an American couple who grew up to doubt the love her adoptive parents got her? Uhm, yes please. But I do hope they played on the drama of her being adopted more because I was really into that side of the story.

Also, I think it could have been better if the authors played more on the little clique that they had (with  Diana, Jenny, Tracy and Chip) instead of just Justin and Emmy. Emmy’s story was interesting…Justin’s was too generic. (OH MY GOD DON’T HATE ME) The various emotional issues of the supporting characters were really interesting. The angle on a school for therapy is really interesting, too. So, I’m really sorry that the authors decided to play more on the romance between the two main characters. I don’t know if I’m just single AF, but the lovey-dovey stuff made me want to retch a little. I’m not even kidding. Okay, I am kidding. A little.

Basically, there were so many good stuff to write about. The story. The characters. The interesting angles on the story. But they chose to write about the typical teen “romance”. Sure, sure. 

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3 of 5. Not remarkable, but not THAT bad either.

Do I recommend it? Meh.


*Cover photo and Synopsis via GoodReads; Gifs via Giphy.

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