A Really Awesome Mess by Trish Cook + Brendan Halpin
Publication Date: July 23, 2013
Publisher: Egmont USA
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: therapy, depression, eating disorders
Format read: eBook from Publisher via NetGalley (Thanks!)
Summary: Justin and Emmy are two teens who meet at a therapy/boarding school where they are battling very different demons. What seems like a total damper on their summer soon evolves into group adventures surrounding a pig, Harry Potter, food stealing, and more.
The group that made up Justin and Emmy’s Anger Management class felt straight out of The Breakfast Club to me. The outcasts, each with their own set of problems, working through whatever got them to this reform school in the first place. Or maybe even denying themselves the chance to work through these issues is what truly bonds these unlikely friends.
Though, the center of A Really Awesome Mess is on Justin and Emmy. In alternating chapters, both tell about their experiences at the school, in classes, glancing at each other, disliking one another, and also how exactly they got roped into this position to begin with. The story felt a little slow for me at first, and it wasn’t until both character started opening up a little bit more I felt more invested in these two characters and their struggle to get better.
It’s not every day that the main character in a young adult novel is struggling with identity issues after being adopted. I really liked this aspect of A Really Awesome Mess. Emmy was unable to believe that her parents truly loved her, especially when they had their own biological daughter to care for too. On the other hand, Justin had to contend with a father who just really wasn’t a great guy. Like Emmy, he also had to accept certain aspects of his family, and I enjoyed watching the process it took for him to come to these conclusions.
Even though Halpin and Cook’s book revolves around therapy, there is a ton of adventure to go around when all the kids from the Anger Management class are involved. That was by far my favorite aspect of the book: the friendships formed out of necessity growing into something supportive and true. It was fun tagging along on the wild “pig” chase and seeing what happens.
Definitely more of a light-hearted look at teens struggling with various obstacles, A Really Awesome Mess is a pretty fast-paced read with unique characters, a blossoming romance, and a cinematic feel.