a really awesome mess coverAuthors: Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin

Number of Pages: 288

Publisher: EgmontUSA

Release Date: July 23, 2013

“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 first picked up this book purely because I loved the design of the cover. It’s clean, simple, and yet unusual- what’s so important about a regular lunch tray? Intrigued, I checked it out and originally expected to be a fun, easy read. After having finished the book I am happy to say that is exactly what it was.

From the very first page I was extremely impressed by the believable narration. This book is narrated from the perspectives of Emmy and Justin, two teenagers who both attend Heartland Academy. These characters have voices that have distinct personalities and are actually fairly realistic. The insecurities of the characters are ones that many teenagers also deal with, which made the story easy to relate to despite the rather unusual setting. I felt as though the relationships between the characters were executed well- they did not seem forced or rushed, and they certainly weren’t stereotypical. The story itself addressed many tough issues, such as body image, adoption, divorce, and depression. Despite the rather unpleasant topics, the story had positive tone for the most part and the ending wrapped nearly everything up quite nicely while still leaving room for further interpretation. It also earns extra bonus points for the many Harry Potter references included. 🙂


I did enjoy reading A Really Awesome Mess, however it was not my favorite book. There was nothing spectacular about it that made me NEED to keep reading. The characters were great, the writing was decent, and the story was light and cute, but I felt like it was missing that extra something that would have made it really amazing. Overall, it was an enjoyable book to read once, but it’s not something i would pick up a second time.

My Rating: :0) :0) :0) :0) 4 out of 5 smileys

Would I recommend it to a friend?: Yes, if they liked contemporary YA fiction or stories about teens dealing with tough issues. Otherwise, it is not something that I would necessarily recommend to everyone.




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