Posted in Reviews

Review: A Really Awesome Mess

A really awesome mess cover

Title: A Really Awesome Mess

Authors: Trish CookBrendan Halpin

Genre: Young Adult

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 received this book from the publisher in exchange for a review.

3 stars

Justin and Emmy are two teenagers whose families sent them to a reform school called Heartland Academy.

I can’t figure out exactly how is the Heartland Academy supposed to help teenagers. Teens in the book have a lot of issues that they slowly work out, but they help each other a lot more than the Academy helps them. The Academy has weird rules. Everybody has to eat a lot. It seems that you can get out of the Academy if you don’t gain weight. That’s really not a good way to cure somebody’s eating disorder. I don’t know much about eating disorders, but I think it makes more sense to help someone get to the point where they want to eat normally, instead of force- feeding them. There are some other weird moments, like the use of the word feminazi, very unprofessional therapists etc.

The characters are more flawed than in any other YA book I’ve ever read. But that’s not a bad thing; it actually makes them more realistic. You can feel their frustration at being stuck in the Academy. The relationship between Emmy and Justin develops very slowly. There’s no love at first sight here. They don’t even seem to like each other very much. The two of them have some cute moments, but I can’t see them staying together once they’re both out of the Academy.

There are plenty of Harry Potter references, which I love, and lots of facts about pigs, which was weird, but also cute.even though the story has a lot of flaws, it kept me curious. But I don’t think I’d recommend it to anyone.


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