Emmy, adopted at birth from China, is sure she doesn’t belong at Heartland Academy. She doesn’t have issues like compulsive lying, possible psychopathy and anger management. Similarly, Justin is also sure he doesn’t belong at the reform school…It’s a terrible place for terrible kids, and he doesn’t have that many issues. Maybe.
Because I was never a “rebellious” teenager, I did, at times, mentally berate Emmy and Justin for acting entitled. They were both very cold to their sympathetic families. Despite this, it isn’t difficult to sympathize with Emmy and Justin. The issues they deal with are, respectively, anorexia and depression – but what’s important about Emmy and Justin is their maturation throughout the course of the novel.
As part of a support group of other “troubled” kids, they start to see outside of themselves and their own distorted point of views. They start to feel empathy for others and appreciate their family and friends. Maybe…they’ll even start seeing life from a different perspective.
Overall, I did enjoy reading A Really Awesome Mess – but it hasn’t left me with any of the wonderful lingering after-emotions of a spectacular read. I would have liked a deeper plunge into all the tangled messes of relationships, eating disorders and emotions. Several issues in the novel were addressed and then resolved too simplistically (for instance, the psychotherapy).
On the other hand, kudos to Cook and Halpin for the strong personalities. I can remember every one of the “troubled” kids’ names. Funny, troubled and distinctive, the characters are the heart of the novel, the beacon of light in the middle of a teenage wasteland. A Really Awesome Mess may not have been an astounding or life-changing book for me, but it was an entertaining story littered with characterization and humor. 3.5/5
***eBook provided by Netgalley