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

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.

Release Date: July 23, 2013
Age Group: YA
Source: NetGalley

A Really Awesome Mess was a great read!  It was heartfelt, funny, and full of honest observations about life.  

The characters were the best part of this book. They were well-developed, realistic, and diverse.  I love reading about all different types of people, and I really love reading about people with all different types of problems.  And this book had that in spades: the setting is a reform school.  Each character was at Heartland Academy for a different reason, and their own individual issues made for an interesting read.  I loved seeing the characters work through their issues in healthy ways.  I hate "love cures all" types of books, so to see people grow and change through hard work, therapy, and shifting their mindsets was really encouraging to read about.

You might think that a character-driven book like this one would be a slower read, but it wasn't.  The conflict resolution in each character's life provided enough intensity that the story moved at a great pace.  The ending was perfect, I couldn't have asked for a more appropriate and satisfying end to the book.

A Really Awesome Mess was a great, fulfilling read that made me feel good while reading it.  It made me smile, and tear up a few times, and overall I had a great time reading it.  The writing style was very open and easy to read.  The voices were fresh and honest---two of my favorite things.  I would recommend this book to anyone!   


  1. Great review. I really like this cover for some reason.

  2. I've heard great things about this one! Sounds really interesting. Thanks for the giveaway! :)


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