August 30, 2013

A Really Awesome Mess - Trish Cook & Brendan Halpin

A Really Awesome Mess - Trish Cook Brendan Halpin
A Really Awesome Mess by Trish Cook & Brendan Halpin
Publisher: Egmont USA
Publication Date: July 23, 2013
Source/Format: Netgalley (Thanks Egmont!) || e-galley
[I received this book from the publisher. This in no way affects the thoughts expressed in my review.]

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. (from Goodreads)

In many ways, A Really Awesome Mess is a really awesome book.

The setting - a reform/rehab school - pretty much guarantees a vibe that draws on the feel of It's Kind of a Funny Story or Sisters in Sanity. Heartland Academy reminded me a lot of Red Rock in Sisters of Sanity. The methods used to "help" the kids with their issues weren't necessarily the most healthy, sensitive of kind. In fact, some of them seemed downright abrasive and crossed lines that should have been maintained. However, in spite of these obstacles in the form of "rehab', these friends were able to develop an understanding of each other, themselves and the steps towards working out their problems.

Of the two main characters, Justin was really interesting due to the issues he has with his father. There might not be an in-depth exploration of their relationship, but the hints that were dropped were sufficient enough to create a picture. Though the resolution felt slightly underwhelming, it also felt real, which is what counts.

Then there's Emmy, who has a couple of major issues: being adopted, an ill-advised relationship and an eating disorder. While it could potentially backfired and made her simply the poster child for issues, it somehow worked well. There could have been more depth when it came to Emmy's personal journey, and it worked out a little too conveniently, but it was still well-written.

The friendships are what really carry this book along, and make it special. The book focuses on the formation of a ragtag bunch of misfit friends, each with their own colorful story to share. Their differences and the way that affected their relationships made for a fun read. There are also a ton of shenanigans that Justin, Emmy and their friends find themselves involved in. These crazy events were amusing, though it was difficult to suspend my disbelief at how perfectly convenient or executed certain parts were. It felt almost like a Disney Channel Original Movie, which was even more incentive to like it. 

This book gains bonus points for featuring a carnival (!), pigs (!!) and Harry Potter (!!!). The winning combination of serious themes and entertainment is truly appealing, and that's what makes A Really Awesome Mess fun. Jam-packed with funny moments, crazy adventures and real issues, this book was totally enjoyable.


  1. Yes, mentioning HP always gives a book bonus points :D This book sounds interesting, thanks for the great review!


  2. This sounds so interesting. I am putting it on my buy list, for sure!

    Kate @ Ex Libris

  3. Yay I'm glad you liked it :) I love the cover and have been meaning to read it for like a month now!

  4. I'm glad you liked this one! I think I got it when it was a read now on NetGalley, though I have no idea what it's about. I'm glad that it is so appealing!

  5. Harry Potter and friendships? YES! That's my favorite when it comes to things in books (because I will always love references to the boy who lived).

  6. I loved the way HP was incorporated in this book-such a fun surprise! I enjoyed all the humorous moments as I was not expecting such a funny read.


Thanks for leaving a comment! I love seeing what you have to say, and will try to reply (here or on Twitter) as soon as I can :)