A Really Awesome Mess

really awesome messAn angry girl and a depressed boy, both sixteen, are sent to a therapeutic boarding school.

This succinct description summarizes the book, but it does little to capture the complete JOY of this new story from authors Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin.

If you like quirky teen characters with real honest emotions, this is the book for you.

The problem with being a teenager is that run-of-the-mill problems like depression and anger can still make you feel completely overwhelmed. And it doesn’t matter how ordinary and unexceptional your problems are — if you don’t have any clue how to solve them or to make yourself feel any differently. So when you try to solve your problem yourself, sometimes you end up at Heartland Academy, a therapeutic reform school in the middle of a corn field.

Justin’s handful of tylenol after getting caught on the receiving end of a sexual favor got him to Heartland Academy, but it will take more than a few sessions in a “Sexual Reactivity” support group to help him figure out where to go from here.

Emmy got busted bullying a high school boy on Facebook, but her refusal to apologize (or eat enough calories to survive) landed her at Heartland. She won’t reveal the truth about what happened to anyone but her sister, who she isn’t allowed to talk to again until she starts eating.

The whole story is gradually revealed by the two newest residents at Heartland Academy as Justin and Emmy narrate alternating chapters.

The other teens in their anger management group are scary. They have all been in the program longer and know the system.  But as each teen gradually reveals what they did that got them locked up, and more interestingly – why they made those choices – they each learn something about themselves.

Check out A Really Awesome Mess by Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin and then let me know what you thought of it! Have you read other books like this? What do you recommend?



Lissa Staley

Lissa Staley helps people use the library. She is a Book Evangelist, Health Information Librarian, Trivia Emcee, Classics Made Modern book group leader, NaNoWriMo Municipal Liaison, Community Novel Project leader, HUSH podcaster, and frequent library customer. She reads a new book every few days, but recently enjoyed Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley.