{Review} A Messy, Beautiful Life by Sara Jade Alan


FicCentral received a free copy of this book from Entangled Publishing (via NetGalley).
{Review} A Messy, Beautiful Life by Sara Jade AlanA Messy, Beautiful Life by Sara Jade Alan
Publisher: Entangled Teen on October 2, 2017
Genre(s): Contemporary Fiction (YA)
Pages: 220

Our Rating

5 Stars

Life is funny sometimes.

And not always the ha, ha kind. Like that one time where a hot guy tried to kiss me and I fell. Down. Hard. And then found out I had cancer.

I’m trying to be strong for my friends and my mom.

And I’m trying so hard to be “just friends” with that hot guy, even though he seems to want so much more. But I won’t do that to him. He’s been through this before with his family, and I’m not going to let him watch me die.

So, I tell myself: Smile Ellie. Be funny Ellie. Don’t cry Ellie, because once I start, I might not stop.

A Messy, Beautiful Life by Sara Jade Alan

The Verdict: Ellie’s just your typical high schooler. She’s involved in improv, crushing on a guy, planning for college, and at odds with her dad. Just your normal girl, right? But just as everything is going her way, she finds out she has cancer…and absolutely everything changes.

A Messy Beautiful Life is in some ways just another YA romance, but it’s that added bit of harsh reality and teenage wonder that makes it amazing. Ellie’s entire life is turned upside down, her relationships within her family change and grow, and she doesn’t want to drag Jason (the crush who likes her back) down into her drama. There’s no time that cancer is a good thing, but when it hits in those years that you’re supposed to be looking toward the future, not just fighting to have one at all, it’s an especially unjust burden. But for all it’s heaviness, the book isn’t all darkness and angst. It’s about friends who won’t let her forget how to laugh, a boy who brings that magic of young love even in the worst of times, and a girl who views her place in the world with all the fear and hope and wonder that so many teens feel but spend too much time ignoring.

I half expected A Messy Beautiful Life to be a huge downer, something I might have to push myself to finish reading. The whole cancer bit can really throw a story off (I suppose much like it does in life, right?). But Ellie was actually a fun character, despite the awful hand she was dealt. Her relationships with the different members of her family were realistic, and the way they changed when cancer struck added more depth to Ellie and all the characters around her — something that’s often missing in stories about girls her age.

Overall, A Messy Beautiful Life was a surprisingly realistic but hopeful read, outlining both the importance of will and the support of friends when facing life’s most terrible obstacles — and emphasizing that you don’t have to lose who you are when you’re dealing with the worst. I hesitate to call it a fluffy, feel-good read, given the subject matter, but that’s the feeling I walked away with after reading the last page. If you love young adult novels but want something with substance, A Messy Beautiful Life is the way to go.

The Breakdown
Cover Design
5 star rating
Plot & Pace
5 star rating
5 star rating
Style & Editing
5 star rating
Story Conclusion
5 star rating
Overall Rating 5 star rating


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