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A Really Awesome Mess


A Really Awesome Mess

Nether Emmy or Justin want to be at Heartland Academy, the reform school, nor feel like they are supposed to be there.

Emmy wasn’t sure what the big deal was. She finally lost her baby fat and enjoyed her perhaps too boney hips. Sure, there was the incident with whole Facebook bullying that was perhaps a tad aggressive, but the jerk boy deserved it. Maybe the indecent photo texted to the boy was a big deal, but didn’t boys and girls do that all the time? Regardless, as the adopted child into a family that clearly didn’t want an adopted child, Emmy figured she was giving them all a break by getting out of their hair for a while at Heartland, even if Emmy felt there was no need to be enrolled.

"Authors Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin seamlessly weave together the contrasting yet complementary stories of Emmy and Justin in the most satisfying way."

Justin couldn’t understand why he was at Heartland and in the Sexual Reactivity group. Yeah, Justin met a random girl at an amusement park and ended up getting a blowjob only to have his father walk in, but what teenage boy would turn that down? Probably taking all the acetaminophen in an attempted suicide hurt his case, but anyone who knows suicide knows taking a bunch of pills doesn’t really mean Justin wanted to kill himself. Justin chalked up his stint at Heartland to his divorced parents who both seemed to want to pass the buck as far as Justin’s upbringing went.  Regardless, Justin can’t wait to get the hell out of there.

Justin and Emmy figured they would spend one summer term at Heartland and that would be it. Heartland Academy runs on a six level system, though, and both Justin and Emmy learn fast that it’s going to take a lot to work their way up from the bottom rung. For Emmy, this means having someone monitor her eating habits, being truthful with her therapist and perhaps confronting her family issues. Justin realizes he’s going to have to figure out what his core issue is along with what it means to interact normally with the opposite sex. And if you’ve ever been to reform school, then you know this isn’t as easy as it appears.

Thankfully Justin and Emmy join up with a small group of ragtag teens, and together they all decide to work together to get out of Heartland. Of course, nothing ever goes as planned, and when a group of teenagers working out issues gets together, you know you’re in for some fun --- and trouble!

Authors Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin seamlessly weave together the contrasting yet complementary stories of Emmy and Justin in the most satisfying way. Both teenagers have their own complex issues to work through, but that doesn’t mean they still aren’t adolescents and want to be like every other kid who goes on dates, hangs out with friends and deals with teenage angst. Part of the fun of A REALLY AWESOME MESS is to see Justin and Emmy try to act normally when clearly their surroundings and situations don’t let them. While there may be no clear happy ending in sight, you’ll be rooting for Justin and Emmy the whole way. 

Reviewed by Benjamin Boche on June 18, 2013

A Really Awesome Mess
by Trish Cook

  • Publication Date: July 23, 2013
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: EgmontUSA
  • ISBN-10: 160684363X
  • ISBN-13: 9781606843635