How To Be Brave by E. Katherine Kottaras isn’t the light hearted YA contemporary that it appears to be

How To Be Brave by E. Katherine Kottaras isn’t the light hearted YA contemporary that it appears to be

Readers who appreciate honesty and realism in their contemporary YA fiction will probably appreciate How To Be Brave more than readers who take one look at the cover and expect some light-hearted shenanigans.  While I found this book to be a bit of a downer because I was picking this book based on the cover, I really did appreciate the sincerity of the story.


Goodreads Summary

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.

My Thoughts

This is a Bildungsroman that I think gives a very accurate portrayal of what it is like to search for your place in the world when the rug has been ripped out from under you.  Georgia is trying to get back to relishing life when the story begins, and like many of us, her journey begins with a list.  The problem with lists is that things often don’t turn out as expected, and as she tries to push herself to rejoin those who are really “living,” she finds she might just have destroyed all the things she thought she had left.  I think that is the part that is most real about this book – you can’t really just dive back into life and find that everything is golden.  It is this reality, though, that kind of made this a sad and lonely journey for me as a reader.  Georgia needs the isolation to really get in touch with who she is, but it honestly felt like she was given an extended stay in misery.  I didn’t really mind this, but I think the blurb made me expect something more light-hearted, and this was more honest than that.  I liked the characters in this book, and I liked the lessons that each of them taught Georgia.  She was a better person for having to see people through a different perspective.  I also liked the fact that, in the end, being brave meant more than just doing daring things – it really meant putting herself out there emotionally.  I did feel like the narrative kind of glossed over a pretty big issue – when Georgia does something inexplicable at a party, there aren’t really enough details to make readers understand how she could have possibly made such a colossal mistake.  I felt like Georgia didn’t really have to do any soul searching about that incident, and I think she should have had to own up to her actions more – she pays for it and regrets it, but she doesn’t really think about how she was the person at fault.  Overall, I enjoyed the truth this book told about the work we all have to do when our plans crumble around us.  Language and situations are appropriate for high school readers.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


About queenbook

When the final bell rings, I stash those messy piles of essays and analysis assignments in a desk drawer and I head home to a pile of good books. My kids and dog eat too many chicken nuggets and the house could be neater, but as long as I get my daily read, I guess we are doing all right. When I was twelve and fifteen and eighteen and twenty, I believed I needed to get out there and do those things I had just been reading about, which ended in disaster, tears, a tattoo that scares me every time I catch a glimpse of it in the mirror, and the realization that some of us are meant for action, and some of us are meant to critique the pace of action in a book. I read primarily YA fiction as I have a rather hulking classroom library and a hundred high school readers to engage daily. Nothing makes me happier than coming to school and finding an impatient teenager waiting by my door to turn in a book and get another one just like it. I adore a good zombie, a medieval princess, or girl assassin (I would like them all in one book if you are a writer looking for some inspiration). I add historical mystery to my wish list a year in advance, and you should get out of my way when the next Outlander book comes out. I have an embarrassing fondness for rock star books, but only if they don’t get too trashy and embarrass me. My favorite book of all time is The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery. My book boyfriends include Gilbert Blythe, Alonzo Wilder, and Jamie Fraser. They are mine and you can’t have them.

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