05 November 2015

ARC Review: How to Be Brave, E. Katherine Kottaras

How to Be Brave

Title: How to Be Brave
Author: E. Katherine Kottaras
Published: 03/11/2015, St Martin's Press
Pages: 288
Source: Netgalley
Format: Ebook

Rating: 2.5/5

"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."

How to Be Brave is a nice read and quite a beautiful book that deals with many important issues, including loss/grief and growing up. In places, it was a fun read and in others it was serious and heartbreaking. However, I found it quite similar to many other YA contemporaries, but this may just be me over-reading the genre at the moment.

Like many contemporary YA's, How to Be Brave is set in a high school. Obviously, a fairly logical setting to place 17-year-old characters into. And the majority of the characters are the typical high school kids we all read about: the queen and her followers; the crush; the caring best friend etc. I have to say that all these characters were pretty forgettable.

I did like Georgia though. I felt so sorry for her. I can't imagine losing a parent at such a young age. But I also really liked that she tried to see the positive things in life and forced herself "out there". She's also quite shy and a bit of a loner but her character development as her senior year progresses is amazing!

How to Be Brave is told from Georgia's perspective giving the poignant insight into her grief throughout the story. And this is written so well. I also liked the poetry at the end of each chapter. It was such a unique addition to the story and showed Georgia's feelings so well.

I did find parts of How to Be Brave to be quite predictable. Again, I think that's just the similar contemporary YA's getting to me and this did lead to me getting slightly bored. I need something unique! I also found the story to be quite slow at times. And I also didn't understand the need for Part 1 and Part 2. Part 2 didn't even start until around 70% and I don't think this helped with any slowness.

One thing I really didn't like about How to Be Brave was the drugs. Why is it almost every contemporary YA I have read recently involves characters taking drugs. And with almost no consequences. It is NOT brave for a start. And it feels like these authors are promoting drug use.

Basically, I did like How to Be Brave but it wasn't really that unique and some parts did frustrate me. I would, however, still recommend How to Be Brave to teenagers and fans of contemporary. In the end, it is quite a heart-warming story in its own way, even if it is quite sad.

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