Saturday, June 29, 2013

Basket Case - A Review of A Really Awesome Mess by Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin

A Really Awesome Mess 

by Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin

Goodreads Blurb
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.
I really wanted to like this book.  The description spoke of great potential.  My main problem with this book is the striking similarities to a Twilight fanfiction story that I read about two years ago by the name of (Don't You) Forget About Me.  This story followed the same formula of six teenagers in a mental institution/alternative school.  The teens even had some of the same disorders that landed them in the school.  In both stories, the teenagers learn to trust each other and thereby learn to trust in themselves.  In both, they leave the school for a wild visit to a nearby fair/carnival.  There are many more ways that these stories are alike, but I will refrain from listing them.

The interactions between the teens was witty and interesting, but the complete incompetence of the hospital staff was laughable.  At times it felt like the authors wanted us to take the story seriously, but the absolute ridiculousness of certain serious situations made that impossible.

I was completely in love with the idea of this book, but the book itself fell far too short.

2 out of 5 stars.

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