Author: E. Katherine Kottaras
Rating: 3.5 - 4/5
Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for letting me receive a digital copy of this book before the official release date.
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.
Oh you lovely young adult books, mixed with a bit of poetry and phrases that will make you think about life - I missed you so much!
These days, I prefer new adult books over young adult books, but from time to time, I try to pick up a light young adult read, just to remember what this carefree reading feels like. That's the reason I requested How To Be Brave in the first place and also because I thought it would be a good read, making me feel different feelings all at once. I wasn't disappointed.
Georgia isn't one of the skinny girls, she's a curvy one. That is so refreshing from all these books about young girls who find themselves ugly, but are yet super skinny and beautiful in reality. Georgia has her flaws and she knows that. Her mother had flaws, too, capturing her thoughts of perfection of a body in her paintings. That is until she becomes very sick and eventually dies. Ever since that day, Georgia feels lonely and kind of invisible to her father, as well.
There's a letter that her mother left her, telling her to try things out, to be brave and do the things she never did. After that, Georgia and her friend decide to set up a list with things to do. While reading that part, you may think this book is just like all the others about a dying parent and the daughter or son creating a list of things to do before the die themselves. But please give How To Be Brave a chance, because it's different. I promise you it's different.
One day, the two of them skip school and go to the zoo. They meet another girls there, who's much more of a rebel than the two friends. However, one point of their list is to get high and Evelyn, the girl from the zoo, is the perfect match for that, getting high herself almost every day. The scenes about the three girls getting high are great! Especially the museum scene. I liked the flashbacks Georgia had there.
Another point on the list is asking Georgia's crush Daniel out and kiss him. Georgia decides to be a little braver and asks him out before Thanksgiving, but Daniel, although he is such a sweetheart, has got problems on his own. His father is getting sick, about the same as Georgia's mother had been. With him being focused elsewhere it seems like Georgia will never set a "done" mark behind these two special points.
And then there is the question about college and her life in general, and her financial situation at home and the strength of friendship and all that. I'm only mentioning these things so fast, because I don't want to give too much away. Do I?! I hope not.
Sometimes, I'm in the mood for a book that makes you think and sets your brain into action and sometimes I don't. Some young adult reads can be pretty heavy as well, mentally I mean. I picked How To be Brave up when I felt like reading something heavy, though the book isn't too heavy. It deals with death and friendship and losing friends, sure, but there is never a scene that made me want to quit reading.
I have to admit that I couldn't always relate to Georgia's actions, especially about her gentle heart, being so forgiving to people. But that's the great thing about different minds, I guess. I enjoyed reading about her crush on Daniel and her passion for painting things, just like her mother. It's always nice to see someone reconnected with their dead parents in a certain way and I am overwhelmed by the power of E. Katherine Kottaras for creating such a wonderful read. Thank you so much for the sugar in my tea, so to say. How To Be Brave was a special read for me and I will definitely recommend it to some of my friends, hoping they'll read it.
E. Katherine Kottaras is originally from Chicago, but now she writes and teaches in the Los Angeles area. She holds an M.A. in English from the University of California, Irvine and teaches writing and literature at Pasadena City College. She is at her happiest when she is either 1) at the playground with her husband and daughter and their wonderful community of friends, 2) breathing deeply in a full handstand, or 3) writing.
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