Tuesday, July 23, 2013

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

Title: A Really Awesome Mess
Authors: Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin
Release Date: July 23rd by EgmontUSA
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Source: Received from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 
A Really Awesome Mess

Summary from Goodreads: 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.


I don't know about you, but I would not expect a book about a reform school to be funny. I would think it would be pretty depressing, actually. A Really Awesome Mess definitely proved me wrong in that aspect. I laughed out loud a few times and that's pretty rare for me. A whole lot of heart accompanies that humor, and the combination is as perfect as sweet and salty. 

Justin and Emmy are both wrongly sent to Heartland Academy, a reform school for problems ranging from pathological lying to eating disorders, by their evil parents who just want to get rid of them. Or that's why Justin and Emmy think they're being subjected to teenage hell, at least. Slowly, Justin and Emmy begin to realize that they may actually have a reason for being at Heartland that has nothing to do with their parents not loving them.

A Really Awesome Mess uses dual narration, and let me tell you, both Just and Emmy are hilarious. Seriously. I loved them. Justin's wisecracking and Emmy's sarcastic humor were such a treat to read. A few times I forgot whose head I was in and got a little confused, but I think that's due to the continuity of the secondary characters and the setting more than voice issues. 

Speaking of the secondary characters; they were prefect. They all had depth and awesome individual personalities. Not to mention the plethora of growth going on for them as well as Justin and Emmy. The interactions between the group were my favorite part of the book. The characters were all so original and hilarious.

I was a little disappointed in the level of "after school special" the end of the novel reached. I'm happy with the way it ended, but I think it diverged from the tone of the rest of the novel. Other than that, I am happy with the way the authors portrayed the real issues these teens had, and I don't feel as though the issues were trivialized, which could have easily been the case.

A Really Awesome Mess was a surprisingly funny read with a lot of heart. I thoroughly enjoyed it and will be looking for more from these two authors.


  1. i've seen this one around but i didn't really give it any thought because of the bland cover. but now that i know it's a dual perspective novel (which i'm a sucker for) and it sounds like a fun read despite the heavier issues, i'll definitely keep it in mind. awesome review taylor :)

  2. I've seen this one around before as well, but haven't yet read up on it. It sounds like an interesting read. Glad it made you laugh, I love books that can make me laugh. :)

  3. I didn't expect so much humor either-this book could have been way dark but I'm glad a lighter tone was taken as that is the kind of book I tend to like. The resolution was maybe a bit too easy but I still enjoyed myself over all (it's definitely my favorite of all the books I've read from this author.)


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