Tuesday, January 26, 2016

How to Be Brave by E. Katherine Kottaras

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Author: E. Katherine Kottaras
Publisher: St. Martin's Press (St. Martin's Griffin)
Publication Date: November 3, 2015
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

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.
What jumped out about this book immediately was the story; a girl losing her mom and trying to cope with living without her. I've been trying to do the same for the past 3 years, so I figured I would relate to Georgia in that respect. The story takes place after her mother has already passed, and she decides to embrace the old adage "live life to the fullest" by doing things she never would have attempted before, such as trying out for the cheerleading team and making a move on the guy she liked. I think we can all find a little of ourselves in Georgia, and darned if it didn't make me think,"Screw what other people will think, I need to do what makes me happy." Inevitably in this adventure she made some poor choices, but life isn't always a smooth ride and sometimes you do stupid things. It's all a learning experience, so it made Georgia seem that much more human.

Overall, even though I did find some things I had in common with Georgia, I just didn't connect with the characters enough. Liss was just so-so for me, she didn't stand out much. I felt like she was a crappy friend at times too, even though Georgia wasn't exactly being a model friend either. I liked Daniel, but like the others he was also fairly forgettable. On the plus side, I did at least feel like the characters evolved and changed as a result of their experiences.

I really wanted to love this book, and I guess I just took it for granted from the synopsis alone that I would be blown away by it. The loss of my mom was such a crushing, all-consuming loss that I expected to feel that reflected in this story; I didn't, but it makes me wonder if maybe it's because Georgia's mom's death was not unexpected. My mom's passing was completely unexpected and it has taken me so long to come to terms with it (I still am trying to, in fact). Perhaps the grieving process is different if you have had time to prepare for it. If I'm not mistaken, this is author E. Katherine Kottaras's debut novel, and although I had my issues with How to Be Brave, I think she shows a lot of promise as a writer. I will definitely check out more of her work in the future.

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