Estelle: Adrenaline Crush by Laurie Boyle Crompton

Adrenaline Crush by Laurie Boyle CromptonAdrenaline Crush by Laurie Boyle Crompton ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: 9/23/2014
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
Pages: 192
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: daredevil, therapy, falling in love, family
Format read: ARC paperback from the publisher. (Thanks!)

Summary: Dyna loves how she feels when she takes risks. When she gets seriously hurt in a fall, her mom forces her into a therapy program that she finds totally laughable. She doesn’t plan on doing anything out of her comfort zone ever again, even if the doctors do say her ankle can get better. But meeting the people in her group especially a war vet a few years older than her makes her wonder if she can find a balance in her life.

So 192 pages is short for a young adult book, right?

The size intrigued me because there’s only one other I can think of (Something Like Normal by Trish Doller) that manages to tell a complete story in a compact book. Could Adrenaline Crush do the same?

For the most part, it did. Crompton gave us a great sense of this supportive and unconventional family, Dyna’s thirst for adventure, and how her fall makes her rethink why she loves to do things that give her a crazy rush even if it means risking her health and her life. She’s never thought about consequences before because she’s never had to. So now what?

Her accident not only changes her own way of thinking but it also alters her mom’s usual easy-going nature. Suddenly, Mom is feeling over-protective and wondering if her and her husband have given their kids too much freedom to pursue what they wanted. The lack of boundaries lands one kid in the hospital and Dyna’s older brother is wasting his time smoking up and avoiding decisions about his own future. On the other hand, Dyna’s dad is confused by this change in his wife and urges his daughter to get healthy and get back on the saddle.

Then there’s Jay — a boy from Dyna’s school who ends up at the scene of the accident, saves her, and becomes her boyfriend. Their attachment to one another is based on Dyna’s accident more so than knowing each other well. Don’t get me wrong — he’s totally devoted but at some point, the two were going to have to discuss how they fell for each other so quickly. Was it a real or was it kind of convenient?

See? That’s a lot for 192 pages and I haven’t even talked about the therapy center yet. An oddball group of people of various backgrounds and ages talking in a circle about their fears and what they want to overcome. Dyna thinks it’s a bit hokey but even her cold heart is melted when she starts to get to know these people and takes part in field trips to help them. The instantly good looking Pierce helps a bit with that too. He was injured in the war, helping out friends and he’s returned to the therapy group to assist. But you can tell he is still healing too.

Obviously, Pierce and Dyna already have more in common than her and Jay. I’m not a fan of love triangle scenarios but I truly believe that you cannot help who you fall for and these two develop a friendship before they are talking about “what this all means”. Crompton handled the boys in this story really well. It was respectful and it felt authentic.

Could Adrenaline Crush worked better as a longer book? In some ways, yes. I would have liked to see a better developed resolution, more dialogue with her family (they are just so great), and more of a glimpse into Dyna’s thinking process as she seesawed between being a risk taker and playing it safe. Interference from her parents would have worked well here too. All in all, the book kept me interested and was definitely enjoyable, even if it won’t be a forever favorite.

rather be reading borrow from the library icon

Add to Goodreads | Buy on Amazon | Buy on B&N | Magan’s review of Blazed by Laurie Crompton

Book Cover of A Really Awesome Mess

Estelle: A Really Awesome Mess by Trish Cook + Brendan Halpin

Book Cover of A Really Awesome MessA Really Awesome Mess by Trish Cook + Brendan Halpin
Publication Date: July 23, 2013
Publisher: Egmont USA
Pages: 288
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.

rather be reading borrow from the library icon

Add to Goodreads | Buy on Amazon