Book Review: How to be Brave

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Synopsis from Amazon.com:

Reeling from her mother’s death, Georgia has a choice: become lost in her own pain, or enjoy life right now, while she still can. She decides to start really living for the first time and makes a list of fifteen ways to be brave – all the things she’s wanted to do but never had the courage to try. As she begins doing the things she’s always been afraid to do – including pursuing her secret crush, she discovers that life doesn’t always go according to plan. Sometimes friendships fall apart and love breaks your heart. But once in a while, the right person shows up just when you need them most – and you learn that you’re stronger and braver than you ever imagined.

*I received this book as a digital ARC from St. Martin’s Press. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on November 3, 2015.*

I wanted to like this book. I truly did but I just could not.

The author’s style of writing infuriated me to no end. To be fair, it’s quite possible this type of book is just not my cup of tea but it wasn’t for me at all.

First my biggest issue was at least once every chapter E. Katherine Kottaras would write, “This is what it’s like,” and then proceed to have the character tell us what it indeed was like. I cannot stand this type of writing. Why do this? Why not just write what it is like? There’s no need for a preamble.

To me, this book felt more like a journal. It felt as if the main character, Georgia, was writing in her journal about her experience but she wasn’t the best writer so she would sometimes just stop and do a flashback and say, “This is what it was like,” or tell a story about the present and say, “This is what it is like,” and then proceed to say so. Maybe the book is meant to feel that way but I didn’t like this style.

Moreover, I struggled to like any of the characters. I couldn’t feel sympathetic for Georgia because she switched between being a sad girl to cursing and doing out of line things. I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to get from her character. At the beginning she seems to have a low self-esteem and needs her bestie, Liss, to step in for her but then also in the beginning of the novel she feels confident enough to make fun of another girl for being fat. This happens within the same part (the book is broken up into two parts). It’d be one thing if this was a character development over time but it just seemed like Georgia (or the author) didn’t know what kind of person Georgia was.

Her Liss didn’t seem like a good friend at all. The crush, Daniel, was okay but not swoon worthy. Georgia’s Dad infuriated me with his lack of understanding and then his ridiculous quick change in personality that seemed very unrealistic. And Georgia’s teacher, Marquez, seemed okay but would sometimes be so rude I’d question if a teacher would really say those things to a student and if so, would that even be considered okay.

Additionally, because of the ways in which Georgia chose to “be brave” I couldn’t find sympathy for her. Maybe Georgia and I just have widely different definitions of what makes a person brave but I just thought a lot of things on her list were just reckless behavior.

Lastly, there’s a lot of events in the book that don’t make a lot of sense to me and just seemed to come out of nowhere. I won’t spoil the book but I will say is someone goes through a serious mental health issue and the way in which it was handled in this book didn’t sit well with me. It felt like the root of the issue was just glossed over and I think if the author was going to touch on that it shouldn’t have been something that just happened but something that had a bigger effect and meaning in the book.

Overall, I think I get what the author was trying to do with this book and as I said I did want to like it but there’s just too many issues with it, plot and style wise, for me to recommend it.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow.

Stars

2 stars

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