Published by Text Publishing on August 28th 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Source: My copy
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Since Ava lost Kelly, things haven’t been going so well. Even before she gets thrown out of school for shouting at the principal, there’s the simmering rage and all the weird destructive choices. The only thing going right for Ava is her job at Magic Kebab.
Which is where she meets Gideon. Skinny, shy, anxious Gideon. A mad poet and collector of vinyl records with an aversion to social media. He lives in his head. She lives in her grief. The only people who can help them move on with their lives are each other.
Claire Christian’s Beautiful Mess was the winner of the Text Prize for 2016, and for good reason. This important book examines the issues of depression and anxiety, but also grief of those left behind after a suicide.
It might sound like a grim start, and it is to a certain extent. Not my usual read at all, but Claire Christian has a delightfully Aussie voice to her writing that added so much light to the story, mostly through Gideon.
Ava is grieving for her friend, Kelly. Gideon is a socially awkward nerd, who also happens to write amazing slam poetry. They strike up their friendship initially through letters to one another, which really helps Ava to let go of the gruff persona she has taken on to deal with her trauma, and also to end the toxic relationship she’d been in with Kelly’s brother, Lincoln.
I loved Gideon’s family. It’s so nice to see positive family dynamics and his two mums were gorgeously in love. I wish there had been more in the story with Gideon’s family!
Beautiful Mess reinforces the message that you can’t fix someone with anxiety or depression, just be there for them, listen when they need you, and give them space if they need it. It also examines positive ways to deal with anxiety and depression, including counselling, medication, and strategies.
Claire has created an authentic and informative book for young adults, while also an enjoyable read.