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


Pub. Date: July 23rd, 2013
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Ebook
288 pages

A Really Awesome Mess is like The Breakfast Club for a new generation. It really shows how you never really know what other people are dealing with, or maybe even the extent of what you yourself are dealing with, until you take the time to ask the questions. Like the characters in The Breakfast Club, the A Really Awesome Mess characters have to work on breaking down their own prejudices, in order to find out how amazing their relationships with people they thought they had nothing in common with, can actually be. The two sets of characters rebellions against authority are pretty darn entertaining to.

The novel is told through the alternating perspectives of Emmy and Justin, two of Heartland Academy’s (or Assland as it is affectionately known) newest “students”. Emmy is struggling with anger and feeling she is unlovable, stemming from being adopted, and also from a recent breakup that affected Emmy more than she is willing to admit. Justin, after being walked in on with a girl mid sex act is sent to Heartland for Sexual Reactivity classes, and the fact that he attempted suicide by swallowing a
bottle of acetaminophen. At Heartland everyone is truly “messed” up (their words, not mine). Emmy, Justin and four other Heartland kids are thrown into a support group where they not only have to work on their ‘feelings’, but they have to work together to progress through Heartlands six-steps to freedom program, before they’re allowed to go home.

The best part of this novel – and there are many best parts – is how the characters interact with each other. The conversations, fights, sarcastic comments, and the friendships that they build are funny, sad, self-deprecating, ‘messed up’, disappointing, entertaining, and so relatable, that you can basically see yourself and all of your relationships reflected. For a novel that is so centered on recovery and therapy, nothing comes off as preachy or educational. The recovery of the characters is without a doubt the focus, but the way that each character works through their six steps (or at least the steps we get to see them pass) shows that in recovery there is no right way to be, act, or move on – there is only what works for you.

The two authors worked really well together in creating very distinct male and female voices, a fact that I believe will give A Really Awesome Mess, mass appeal. All of the characters voices – not just Emmy and Justin’s – are honest and real. They show that no matter how messed up you think you are, if you’re willing to open up, and work through you’re problems, you’ll find that other people’s issues may be different from yours, but they feel just as messed up as you do. A Really Awesome Mess is anything but a mess. It is an amazing novel that really does the issues, topics and characters justice. There was nothing about this book that I didn’t love.

Rating 9/10

** I received a copy of this novel from the publisher to read and honestly review. I was in no way compensated.