ARC Review: A Really Awesome Mess

Click on the image to open the book's Goodreads page.

Click on the image to open the book’s Goodreads page.

favoriteTitle: A Really Awesome Mess
Authors: Trish Cook, Brendan Halpin
Publication Date: July 23, 2013
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Format: eARC
Acquisition: Netgalley

Purchase at: Amazon ll The Book Depository

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.


So I found out about this book through one of the blogs that I visited before, and when I saw it on Netgalley, I thought I should try it out. I didn’t actually read the synopsis before I started reading it so I didn’t know what to expect. The title was good enough to get me interested. I only understood the cover after reading the book, and it feels quite clinical now, but I still love it anyway. It’s simple, but it conveys a lot about the content.

A Really Awesome Mess speaks for itself, I think. It is a really light and fun read that will allow you to look into a group of messed up teenagers, as they try to survive and get out of Heartland Academy, the in-the-middle-of-nowhere reform school where their families sent them to fix themselves. Of course, this is met by apprehension by the teenagers, but they soon find the benefits of being there, even if the results weren’t necessarily always achieved by the staff of the institution.

A Really Awesome Mess is told through the thoughts of two troubled teens (tongue twister? XD), which I think accounts for the informal writing, and the amount of attitude displayed in each chapter. The writing is raw, blunt, open and honest with a mix of crazy that will surely entertain you while opening your eyes to how some teenagers think. In fact, I find myself thinking like them sometimes too. I like how the book is relatable. It talks about things that some of us think about, but we never really bother speaking about them or dwelling on them.

In our country, mental disorders aren’t really taken seriously, but I know that America has a lot of institutions or offices that deals with these, especially since teenagers can be easily affected by multiple problems. I, myself, think that’s important to take care of mental health, even though it is discouraged here. Maybe they easily equate mental problems to straitjackets. But that’s not always the case. People just really have problems that they have a hard time handling. I think people shouldn’t judge what’s hard to control. People blame us that we’re feeling depressed or crazy or whatever, but they don’t understand that we just really couldn’t handle it ourselves. I think it’s great that things like these are discussed in books.

Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin definitely know how to make people laugh. One thing you should know about me is that I love humor – in reading, watching, etc. So I mostly loved this book for that. But I think it’s more than that. It mixes in reality with absurd things, and it is able to achieve an entertaining means of looking at how people cope with life with all the baggage that we have to deal with. Although it’s kind of strange how they easily got away with some of the forbidden things that they did, but that’s not really something I dwelled much on while reading the book. I was enjoying myself too much. In fact, I didn’t want to let it go, but sleep was needed.

This book shows teenagers with so many social issues – selective mutism, anorexia, bulimia, anger issues, sexual issues, addiction, self-harm, bullying, etc. There are really a lot of them, and we see these people with these problems coming from different backgrounds. Some of their living situations are heart-breaking, but some of them aren’t really that bad, but they’re all sent to the same place to figure themselves out. I don’t think that this book would really talk much about fixing issues, but there are some parts that could help. What I learned that’s important is that you have to figure it out for yourself. Others can (and should) help, but it’s always going to have to come from you.

I LOVED the characters of this book, specifically their little anger management group of friends. It felt like meeting a really awesome group of friends. They’re all damaged in their own little ways and I felt for them and related to them. I learned to love each and every one of them as I got to know them better. I felt like I belonged with them, and that I was with them as they went through the story. It’s like they were talking to me, and calling me out on my own shit. I’m probably not as messed up as they are though, but it was a really great experience to “have them as friends.”  My favorite part was during Justin’s first culinary class, and Diana and the Dora doll.


OVERALL, This book made me laugh out loud, and it warmed my heart. It even made me a little teary. I would definitely buy my own copy once it comes out in our country (or so I hope it would), which should be soon so YAY~ I loved this book mostly for what I felt about/for it, and it made me one pleased little lady. It is a book that I would personally recommend.




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  • This is all based on personal opinion, and as much as I’m open to other people’s opinions, I hope you understand that this is based on what I feel. I avoid giving out spoilers as much as possible, too.
  • I do not own most of the images I use, and some may be subject to editing.

4 thoughts on “ARC Review: A Really Awesome Mess

  1. I got this on Netgalley too, but I haven’t read it yet. I love your review – glad to hear the book is great. I’m gonna read it ASAP 🙂

  2. Wow that is a mega review! But with some really interesting opinions. I loved the humour in the book as well! And you know what, I hadn’t actually thought about what the cover was at all until you mentioned it. And yeah, after having read the book, it definitely seems quite clinical. Great review 🙂
    ps how random was the pig thing. Did they seriously think they could hide it haha

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