Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Review: How To Be Brave by E. Katherine Kottaras

Publication Date: November 3rd 2015
Publisher: St Martin’s Press
Length: 288 pages

Thanks to Netgalley and St Martin’s Press for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review

An 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.

Something about this book just didn’t click with me, so whilst I saw a huge amount of love for it before I started and I was expecting to love it myself, we never really hit it off.

At the start of the novel I was engaged, interested in these characters and their problems and I loved the idea of the living with no fear list – all things combining to set up a truly great novel. But then it starts to drift. Georgia starts to smoke, do drugs, skip school, and all in the name of her mother’s memory and this list of living with no fear. She acts as though what she’s doing is living, when she’s actually just throwing it all away. Whilst she does realise how badly she’s screwed up later in the novel it felt like too little too late after the borderline glorification of taking drugs etc. that occurs throughout.

With the drugs everything seems to spiral and it turns into a very different novel to the one I started out reading. It loses focus, it drifts, Georgia spends a lot of time isolating and feeling sorry for herself and sabotaging her life and it’s frustrating to read. It also serves to make Georgia come across as extremely unlikeable as she blames her dead mother for the fact that she forced her to live without fear – to do this list in the first place. At no point does Georgia’s mother force her to create this list, or to do anything on it. It’s an interpretation of her wishes that Georgia devises and then spends a good portion of the novel being angry about. As a result my empathy for her decreased sharply and by the end I really didn’t care for her at all.

Throw in a love story with a caricature of the hot guy from school who we never really get to know, or get to see and understand the attraction between them for the three scenes they have together, and I was more than a little grumpy by the end of the novel.

It has its good moments, some truly emotional scenes that had me feeling more than a little bit teary, but they aren’t enough to balance out the problematic aspects. Ultimately it’s a quick read that sadly lacks anything to truly make it shine.

1 comment:

  1. It's a shame this didn't turn out to be a better read, Rosie! Great review though :)
    Michelle @ The Unfinished Bookshelf