Thursday, August 22, 2013

A Really Awesome Mess

A Really Awesome Mess
Tish Cook and Bredan Halpin
$17.99, Hardcover
Egmont, 2013

Genre: Realistic, Humor 

Age: 14+

Description: Justin and Emmy are meeting up at Heartland Academy. Neither one of them wants to be at Heartland Academy where they are “clients” or, as they’d prefer saying, “prisoners”. Heartland is reform school for teens. Just like most of the “clients” they both believe they have been put in Heartland for incorrect reasons. Emmy is in for doing some major Internet bullying. Unfortunately for her no one else seems to care that the other guy started it and was making her life a living hell every day at school. Justin hates visiting his dad who half the time forgets he is even there so after a failed “notice me” attempt with 17 Tylenol pills and his dad catches him on the receiving end of a blow job from a girl he just met at an amusement park, Justin winds up at Heartland for his “sexual” deviancy. Through some great supporting characters, Justin and Emmy get into trouble, bond, and make breakthroughs in their lives.

Opinion: This book is a pretty funny book. Each of the main characters is well developed and they grow throughout the process of the book. We discover that the initial reasons for why Justin and Emmy are sent to Heartland Academy do seem a little wrong (sex obsession and bullying) we discover, just like they do, once they are there that they each have more deep seated issues—Justin has been depressed ever since his parents got a divorce and Emmy is not only anorexic but also feels like her parents don’t really want her since she was adopted from China. As they are forced to attend anger management group therapy sessions, they befriend the other teens at the academy and manage to have some fun while they are “imprisoned”. The humor is helpful in deflecting a bit from the serious material that is often presented. For instance one of my favorite secondary characters is a girl who is a selective mute. When her reasons why it are explained it makes a whole lot of sense regarding her prior behavior. She is also involved in the dangerous scheme of everyone saving a piglet from the slaughter at a local fair and the craziness that ensues as they try to raise and keep a baby pig quiet in their dorms is followed by the big climax when Justin and Emmy attempt to get the pig to a local safe heaven. A great book for teens who like humorous stories and more realistic and gentle romances.

Thanks to the people at Egmont for the ARC for the YALSA YA Galley Group!

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