How to Be Brave by E. Katherine Kottaras (Book Review)

23368740An emotional contemporary YA novel about love, loss, and having the courage to chase the life you truly want.
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 was kindly provided with an eArc by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!

Disclaimer: This book includes teenagers consuming alcohol and drugs!

I don’t even know where to start. I should have read the book and written the review more than a week ago, but NaNoWriMo got in the way. I was really excited to read it, because it seemed to touch upon topics that I care about, but all it did in the end was make me angry. To better express how I feel about How to Be Brave, I separated the review in two parts:

What I Liked About It

  • Throughout the book I saw real development in the main character Georgia. She learned from her mother’s mistakes, became bolder and felt comfortable with her body and herself as a person. Also, she chose a healthier life style, actually wanting to change things without being unrealistic concerning the results that were actually achievable. I can respect and admire resolutions like that!
  • This book was more about friendship and family than about romantic love (even though it is part of it) and I appreciated that.
  • Also, it is the second book in a row that mentions Chicago, Oregon and California. I see that as a sign right there!

What I Didn’t Like About It

  • First, I want to talk about Georgia’s body image issues. She’s a size 16 (US, I think) and while that is overweight, it is far from being huge or obese. So, I want to express my thoughts on the cover. It’s pretty! There is no way denying that, but is the girl on the cover supposed to be Georgia? If so, that is not a correct representation of an overweight girl and I don’t think it sends the right message to people who are actually struggling with their weight.
  • I had really big troubles keeping track of time as there were sometimes weeks or months passing in between chapters.
  • The book wanted to teach the readers a lesson, that everyone has flaws. There’s nothing wrong with that as it is, but I don’t like how it was delivered and resolved. Georgia gets into a fight with her friends (after doing something legitimately stupid), but the way they make up wasn’t okay with me. Yes, we all struggle, but that doesn’t give anyone the right to be mean. Also, there is a fine line between being honest or cruel and Liss really shocked me when it came to Evelyn. I definitely felt like her betrayal was way bigger than Georgia’s.
  • I don’t know anything about poetry, but there were different parts written in prose and it didn’t really get to me. Those parts almost always connected with Georgia’s memories and thoughts about her mother, but somehow they just didn’t captivate me.

I think it was obvious that I struggled with the story. I had issues connecting with Georgia, but I don’t think that there aren’t any good messages to take away. In fact, some of the lessons are really great, I just don’t like how we arrived at their conclusions.

Fazit: 3/5 stars!

I am so happy to finally check off a book from my November TBR. Have any of you read the book? Did you like it?

4 thoughts on “How to Be Brave by E. Katherine Kottaras (Book Review)

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