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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 aversi 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.


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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 aversi 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.

30 review for Beautiful Mess

  1. 4 out of 5

    C.G. Drews

    I am totally totally onboard with the title here. Because this book was thoroughly beautiful and I had FEELINGS. At least three of them. Maybe four. It was wild for a while. But yet it is also a bit of a mess, starring a really predictable and unsatisfying ending that kind of made me feel like a dead frog. HOWEVER!! I still highly loved this book! It's about depression and anxiety and it was super well written. I also just read Definitions of Indefinable Things...which is very very similar. But I am totally totally onboard with the title here. Because this book was thoroughly beautiful and I had FEELINGS. At least three of them. Maybe four. It was wild for a while. But yet it is also a bit of a mess, starring a really predictable and unsatisfying ending that kind of made me feel like a dead frog. HOWEVER!! I still highly loved this book! It's about depression and anxiety and it was super well written. I also just read Definitions of Indefinable Things...which is very very similar. But that was a 5star for me, so perhaps I'm just still on a high from that? WHO KNOWS. L I K E S: • The representation of anxiety/depression is SO well done. It's dual narrated by Gideon and Ava, and they're both really struggling. Gideon with severe anxiety/depression/self harm in the past, and Ava with depression after her best friend died. I think Gideon's was written so relatably in particular. And also it's just refreshing to read books that GET IT, you know?! • Plus it has SUCH a healthy view on getting help. Therapists are not evil. Medication is good. They talk about things with parents. LOVE DOES NOT SAVE THEM. And the underline really really really heavily that hey: people aren't broken. And I think this is so important, because there seems to be this whole push in this day to say "you are broken if you are mentally ill" and you know what, I don't believe you are. You can need help and support and changes in your life to make things better but you're not broken ok. And THE TITLE AND COVER FIT IN WITH THIS!! They are the most glorious references ever. HEART EYES. "Do you know what the Japanese say about broken things?" Robbie looks at me. "Kintsukuroi they call it. They take broken pieces of porcelain and they repair cracks with gold. Making it as it was, but new again. They believe that the cracks can make something more beautiful, more valuable." "Is that for real?" "Have I ever lied to you?" "No." "They believe that the cracks shouldn't be hidden, that they're part of their history, and should be shown. If you're going to show the cracks, why not show them beautifully." LITERALLY MY HEART IS SO FULL OF LOVE FOR THIS BOOK, THIS MESSAGE, AND THIS WHOLESOME GOODNESS RIGHT NOW. This is the kind of mental health book I would've cried over and needed when I was a teen. I mean, I still love it IMMENSELY, even in my 20s, but like, yes please??? Can we have more books that tell kids this???? • The characters were FANTASTIC. I definitely related more to Gideon and he was such a kind awkward squish. He was really funny too! And I love how he made fun of himself, but the book didn't make fun of him. Big difference there, ok. He's super anxious all the time and working hard to rebuild himself after a really rough 4 years. He ends up working with Ava at a kebab shop and they write letters because Gideon is offline. Ava was really spiky and hurting, and I loved how complex she was. She and Gideon became fRIENDS FIRST and that's important. • Oh look. NICE PARENTS. Who care! Amazing! Ava has a single father who's super lovely and Gideon has two mums who are 100% there for him. <3 • The writing was engaging and honestly made me not want to put it down! I loved their voices too. Ava is all "I TAKE NO SHENANIGANS" and Gideon is all "A GIRL LOOKED AT ME AND I DIDN'T DIE WOW". They're so adorkable and gorgeous. I just adjfkaldsa. • We gotcha feels. I wouldn't call it feels breaking or anything, but it definitely made me feel happy AND sad. • It said some really brutally beautiful true things. Which is nice. I don't think any of us are normal. We've all got shit going on, but we're all trying to convince each other that we're normal. I think it's fucked. I think it would be so much better if we were all just more honest and said when things were bad, or that we weren't okay or we were sick or we were happy or whatever. • There are LISTS!! Gideon functions in 74% lists and I think that's adorable and relatable. And I did love their letters too! Although they petered out as the book went on? But it's super cute writing to people, especially if you have anxiety because it can literally be the difference between making a friend and not -- because writing it's so much easier to get your true thoughts out. BLESS THIS BOOK FOR KNOWING WHAT ANXIETY IS LIKE. D I S L I K E S: •I'm a little tired of the "best friend just died" trope. Mostly because it's like in 80% of YA contemporaries these days? It's hard to connect and care about the death of a character when you don't know them at all??? Or maybe I'm an insensitive turnip. • Like I said, that ending??? EHhhhhh. It felt really predictable almost, except Gideon acted WAY out of character. And then the book just left me feeling unsatisfied. Like this could totally just be ME, wanting something specific and not getting it. But it definitely and wholly knocked it down a star for me. SADNESS. (view spoiler)[I think it was pure shit what Gideon said (saying that if Ava left him, then he might hurt himself again) and it was awful how Ava reacted to seeing Lincoln again and just caving to kiss him the moment he showed up. I also felt frustrated that she seemed to want to? So that was unfair...like she committed to Gideon but at the first sign of Lincoln coming back it was like "wait a sec". Noooooooo. And I HATED that they broke up and didn't even try to talk it out. It felt SO FRUSTRATING AND JUST UNRESOLVED. I get that the letter from Gideon in the end is like "let's try again", but I don't even think they should. If they can go 6 months without talking or resolving a fight then mayyyyybe they're not right for each other. I can't see them lasting? My bad. So it just made me go away with all these "Meh" feelings when I wanted to close the book and feel elated. (hide spoiler)] • I was also confused at how Gideon had so many friends? Maybe I'm just being nit-picky or a cold hearted turnip again, but like he's SO AWKWARD and acts friendless and anxious and he's not in a bad place, but he's not particularly great??? But yet he has this huge group of friends so I just don't really understand how that worked without him freaking out about them. And for an introvert he didn't REALLY introvert very often. But ok. ALL IN ALL: This is definitely a beautiful (har har TITLE PUN) book with such important words to say about mental health, love, and brokenness. It was bittersweet and funny and absolutely ADORABLE AND CUTE at times. The slowburn romance was my faaaavourite. Gideon made me laugh/cry simultaneously which is a feat, like well done Mr Gideon. I AM SO PLEASED THIS BOOK EXISTS and I shall smile at it fondly before my bookshelf swallows it. Aussie YA is just fairly amazing ok? OKAY.

  2. 5 out of 5

    L A i N E Y

    This is one of those utterly rare times when I both prefer them being friends and also prefer them as a couple. It’s glorious. I am so proud of Ava. How she could make herself do the right and selfless thing (view spoiler)[by breaking up with Gideon (hide spoiler)] How she could do that I will never understand. If in the same position, I know in my heart I would never be able to do that. And at her age too, no less. No waaayyyy would I be able to do that. I was rather a flawed teenager, as you c This is one of those utterly rare times when I both prefer them being friends and also prefer them as a couple. It’s glorious. I am so proud of Ava. How she could make herself do the right and selfless thing (view spoiler)[by breaking up with Gideon (hide spoiler)] How she could do that I will never understand. If in the same position, I know in my heart I would never be able to do that. And at her age too, no less. No waaayyyy would I be able to do that. I was rather a flawed teenager, as you can imagine. So the more I think about it, the more I realize how much effort it must took and I was so inspired by that amount of tremendous courage all over again.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sue Gerhardt Griffiths

    Wow. Just wow. So beautiful. So raw. So gripping. I was spellbound by Ava and Gideons’ story. The author has created two authentic characters, one struggling with grief and the other with anxiety and self-esteem issues, their emotional journey’s are beautifully written with a touch of humour added to the mix. I laughed and cried in equal measure in some parts of this book. This is so, so good, everyone should read this novel! Love the cover, fitting to the story. A huge thank you to Text Publishin Wow. Just wow. So beautiful. So raw. So gripping. I was spellbound by Ava and Gideons’ story. The author has created two authentic characters, one struggling with grief and the other with anxiety and self-esteem issues, their emotional journey’s are beautifully written with a touch of humour added to the mix. I laughed and cried in equal measure in some parts of this book. This is so, so good, everyone should read this novel! Love the cover, fitting to the story. A huge thank you to Text Publishing and Goodreads Giveaways for this review copy.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Farhina ↯↯ The Wanderer Of Inked Adventures

    2020: Book #4 for the Reading Rush for the prompt: a book that takes place on a different continent than where you live.(reread) I FEEL SO EMOTIONAL ALL OVER AGAIN. ALL THE STARS IN THE WORLD (AGAIN). PLEASE READ AND CHECK THIS BOOK OUT IF YOU HAVEN'T. 2017: "And I've got to keep sorting my shit out, because life is messy. But fuck, it can be beautiful. " This is my new favorite mental health book that deals with depression and anxiety. 💓 This was just so beautifully written, and flowed s 2020: Book #4 for the Reading Rush for the prompt: a book that takes place on a different continent than where you live.(reread) I FEEL SO EMOTIONAL ALL OVER AGAIN. ALL THE STARS IN THE WORLD (AGAIN). PLEASE READ AND CHECK THIS BOOK OUT IF YOU HAVEN'T. 2017: "And I've got to keep sorting my shit out, because life is messy. But fuck, it can be beautiful. " This is my new favorite mental health book that deals with depression and anxiety. 💓 This was just so beautifully written, and flowed so nicely. And had someone of the most beautiful quotes and relatable liners, that made me go hell ya, me af! "You do not need to apologize for being on the planet. You have a right to be here. What you have to say is valid. We want to hear it. None of this bullshit martyr stuff. Own your art. Own you existence. Don't be dickheads. Simple?" "You're lucky. Rae mutters this; she doesn't talk much. "Yeah, I guess." It's weird when that happens, when someone says something that makes you realize that what you think is normal really isn't." 'I tend to not really make choices that are based on my own happiness and so I figured l'd start trying to do that a bit more. I don't think I'm one of those people who are naturally happy, you know? I'm definitely not one of those carefree people who go with the flow and wake up every morning in a good mood. I'm not that guy. tend to live in a state of, well, anxiety.I'm not confident. I know, shock horror, I hardly think you'd have worked that out by now. " The main characters had me falling in love with them. They were so broken and vulnerable and I loved their journey. Ava was like don't come near me "rawr" persona that made people want to stay one feet away from her. She was dealing with the loss of her best friend. And how to just go on with the gaping whole in her heart. And Gideon was a cute little hurt puppy dog. Suffering from depression and sadness. And just trying not to be awkward as hell and freak out in every social situation. He made lists and had a mental conversation before doing things and it was just so relate able his anxious little omg I have to meet another human what do I do now thing. Because honestly Gideon same bruh! Also the parents were kinda amazing 😂 on both the mc's side. They were funny understanding and very lovely. And I loved that so much. All three had such quirky and fun personalities... The discussion about mental health, depression and anxiety in this book was so good.And I loved how natural, raw and beautiful it was. How positive it was and in trying to help deal with things and how their were therapists. How despite all the negatives this books made you go and told you and made you see how their are positives too and how you can find beauty around you and I loved that. "I don't know what your fascination with being normal is. I don't think any of us are normal. We've all got shit going on, but we're all trying to convince each other that we're normal. I think it's fucked. I think it would be so much better if we were all just more honest and said when things were bad, or that we weren't okay or were sick or we were happy or whatever, l used to be one of those people you talked about those people who would wake up in a good mood. I think it's just in you, you know. You're either a positive person or you're a negative person" I was all in all for Ava and Gideons relationship. It's starts in such a little way and the way it builds. I just haven't felt this strong about two characters in a while and it made me really happy to root this hard for my favorites 💓 This book gave me all the feels. The good the bad, the happy the sad. The oh so relatable that made me go oh yes. That me. The writing was a beauty tbh. The quotes and all the one liners I have from this one are way too high! This book had letters and list! Loved loved that part 😂😭 And beautiful poems. I just loved the dynamics of this all. You know a book that leaves you warm and fuzzy and leaves you a little gobsmacked this one was one of them. And I love that feeling soo much. So yeah hello to another one of my favorites 😭 I did have a problem with the last few pages.... But I can also understand why it went that way . . . . and yeah the last page did kinda make up for it. Over all,this book was amazingly beautiful inside and out. With that beauty of a cover that freaking shines to everything that was inside. "Do you know what the Japanese say about broken things?" Robbie looks at me. "Kintsukuroi they call it. They take broken pieces of porcelain and they repair cracks with gold. Making it as it was, but new again. They believe that the cracks can make something more beautiful, more valuable." "Is that for real?" "Have I ever lied to you?" "No." "They believe that the cracks shouldn't be hidden, that they're part of their history, and should be shown. If you're going to show the cracks, why not show them beautifully." (I love how this quote from the books is the inspiration for the cover it makes it 100x more love able because now it has a story behind it) From amazing mental health rep to amazing characters. It was just instant love for me. It was so positive and reading it just gave me so many burst of happy energy but also sad times too. But overall pretty lovely experience Please pick it up! Pretty please! 😭💓 Thank you to Text Publishing for sending me a copy. _____________________________ This was so beautiful..... I am so over whelmed by the amazingness😭 Rtc

  5. 4 out of 5

    Marianne

    4.5★s Beautiful Mess is the first novel by prize-winning Australian novelist and playwright, Claire Christian. When she actually attends, Ava Spirini is in Year 11 at MacGreggor State College, but her regular outbursts in the months since the death of her best friend, Kelly Waititi, have her on shaky ground. Insulting the principal, Mrs Bryan, abusing the school assembly and punching a classmate? Only so much can be excused due to grief before there are consequences. But they just don’t get it: “ 4.5★s Beautiful Mess is the first novel by prize-winning Australian novelist and playwright, Claire Christian. When she actually attends, Ava Spirini is in Year 11 at MacGreggor State College, but her regular outbursts in the months since the death of her best friend, Kelly Waititi, have her on shaky ground. Insulting the principal, Mrs Bryan, abusing the school assembly and punching a classmate? Only so much can be excused due to grief before there are consequences. But they just don’t get it: “…she wasn’t just my best friend, she was my soul sister. And that kind of love doesn’t end. You can’t just move on from that.” Hanging out (and more) with Kelly’s older brother, Lincoln is a way to be closer to her friend, though she’s not sure how Kelly would feel about that. At least her single Dad backs her up in every way, and her boss, Ricky at Magic Kebab, keeps her entertained. Gideon Franks-Meyer is in Year 12 at Ava’s school. Despite unfailing support from his mums, Mandy and Susan, and his older sister, Annie, his battle with anxiety and depression has been a long and hard one. While he saw Ava’s assembly meltdown and remembers Kelly, he’s sure she won’t recognise him when he turns up to do dishes at Magic Kebab. He’s there because his therapist has suggested taking a “small, safe risk”. Friendship with this fiery girl might be possible if he can overcome crippling shyness; if she doesn’t think his poetry and record collection uncool; it’s probably more than he could wish for. An alternating narrative gives both Ava and Gideon a voice: they are smart and perceptive, and between them, have many wise words to offer on mental illness. Their story features grief, guilt, self-harm (suicide and cutting), anxiety, depression, love, and friendship. It highlights society’s fixation on being normal and demonstrates the importance of finding the right therapist. Gideon’s poem “Broken” brilliantly encapsulates depression. While there’s heartache, this is by no means a sombre tale and there’s plenty of humour in the dialogue: “’Do you actually have condoms?’ Susan says. I quickly interject, ‘Yes, I bought them.’ The last thing I need is a trip to Woolies with my mothers to buy condoms. I can just picture the argument in the aisle about which brand is best for durability and ethical production… Besides, what would either of them know about buying condoms?’” While this novel may be branded as Young Adult, it is certain to appeal equally to older readers. The characters are endearing despite their sometimes unwise decisions and occasionally poor behaviour, the dialogue is believable and the story is important and uplifting. A brilliant debut from an author to watch.

  6. 4 out of 5

    K.

    Trigger warnings: grief, death of a friend (in the past), suicide (in the past), mental health, self harm (in the past), violence. 3.5 stars. I'm clearly going to be on Team Unpopular Opinion where this book is concerned, but I just.........didn't really get the type, to be honest. I really loved Gideon's story and his voice. But I had a hard time with Ava and I honestly can't pinpoint why. That being said, I loved that therapy played such a significant role in the story and I loved the emphasis Trigger warnings: grief, death of a friend (in the past), suicide (in the past), mental health, self harm (in the past), violence. 3.5 stars. I'm clearly going to be on Team Unpopular Opinion where this book is concerned, but I just.........didn't really get the type, to be honest. I really loved Gideon's story and his voice. But I had a hard time with Ava and I honestly can't pinpoint why. That being said, I loved that therapy played such a significant role in the story and I loved the emphasis that everyone's grief is different and will progress at a different rate. I loved the secondary characters - Gideon's family were especially wonderful. But at the same time, I was never hooked by the story. And I think it was partly because to me, it felt like there were a whole lot of threads that were raised but never answered. Add a wee dose of uncomfortable-ness about the fact that Kelly and Lincoln are (from memory) the only people of colour in the story and I just...yeah. I dunno. There was something about it that I didn't love.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Text Publishing

    ‘Tender and absorbing, this debut novel from Australia tackles challenging topics…with an open and loving hand. It deals with myriad emotions and allows the healing process to be organic. The sweetness of the characters rises above the darkness they carry, and their honest desire for acceptance…will resonate with a wide range of readers.’ Booklist ‘A book full of heart and hope. Claire Christian’s voice leaps off the page, brimming with energy and verve.’ Judges' comments, Readings Young Adult Bo ‘Tender and absorbing, this debut novel from Australia tackles challenging topics…with an open and loving hand. It deals with myriad emotions and allows the healing process to be organic. The sweetness of the characters rises above the darkness they carry, and their honest desire for acceptance…will resonate with a wide range of readers.’ Booklist ‘A book full of heart and hope. Claire Christian’s voice leaps off the page, brimming with energy and verve.’ Judges' comments, Readings Young Adult Book Prize 'This page-turning novel displays a great deal of artful charm.’ Kirkus 'The characters are engaging, and their emotional struggles are palpable...While the majority of the plot is dark and grim, support from caring adults and siblings brings about an ending that is realistic and hopeful. ­VERDICT Recommended for most public library young adult collections.’ School Library Journal ‘Beautiful Mess doesn’t shy away from how rough the teen years can be, but also demonstrates the possibilities of healing and provides quite a few laughs to boot.’ Readings ‘A raw, affecting coming-of-age story that starts a conversation about mental health.’ Readings ‘Claire is such a lovely bubble of positivity. I’m excited to see what she brings to Aussie YA.’ Danielle Binks, Alpha Reader ‘Beautiful Mess is a stunning read. Claire Christian has delivered a raw and moving debut with beautifully flawed, well-drawn characters who you can’t help but fall in love with.’ Gabrielle Tozer ‘There are no easy answers in this book; its scenes explore debilitating anger and frustration, first sexual experiences and the importance of therapy in recovery. But there is deftness of touch in the writing and some genuinely funny moments. This is a strong, character-driven story from a talented playwright and novelist, which tackles some hefty issues with lightness and humour. It is an impressive debut.’ Books + Publishing ‘Beautiful Mess is a powerful, poignant novel about love, loss, and learning that even though we might feel cracked or broke at times, we are still beautiful…Claire Christian must be commended for tackling some of the most confronting themes in YA with sincerity and heart.’ Written Word Worlds ‘An engrossing read that brings together Ava and Gideon, two emotionally flawed and troubled characters not unlike Libby and Jack in Jennifer Niven’s Holding Up the Universe or Eleanor and Park of Rainbow Rowell’s book of the same title.’ Readings ‘Beautiful Mess tackles young adult issues head on, but with a lightness of touch that lifts it from the dark topics it explores. A debut novel with memorable, authentic characters that touch your heart, float into your life and leave you wanting more.’ Magpies ‘A truly touching story of young people trying to navigate their way through real problems. I highly recommend this novel and congratulate Claire on a great debut.’ Lamont Books ‘Claire Christian delivers an honest and searing depiction of the flow-on effects of grief…A book with a lot of heart and hope and a useful compass for teens facing similar issues.’ Kids’ Book Review ‘Bittersweet and funny…A beautiful book with important words to say about mental health, love and brokenness.’ Paper Fury ‘Beautiful Mess is a wonderful reflection of complexities of adolescence. Palpable, poignant and captivating, the narration of two adolescents finding moments of solace in one another. Claire Christian is a captivating, compassionate and remarkable debut author composing a narrative that will linger long after the final page.’ Diva Booknerd ‘Beautiful Mess is the most sensitive explanation of depression and how it affects lives that I have ever read. If you read any other book and felt a bit uncomfortable about the depiction of depression, read this one and understand more. Recommend it to your teenagers, your students, your friends with teen kids. It might help them understand and recognise themselves in some of the pages.’ The Sapling ‘Tender and insightful…An enlightened look at youth suicide and mental health.’ New Zealand Herald ‘Claire has created an authentic and informative book for young adults, while also an enjoyable read.’ Tea in the Treetops ‘The characterisation is strong and works wonderfully with the sinuous dialogue. In these darkened lives there are some light and funny moments, cleverly crafted by Claire Christian…All libraries for young adults should stock at least one copy of this book.’ Reading Time ‘A raw, beautifully written story that sensitively tackles grief, suicide, self-harm and first sexual experience.’ NZ Women’s Weekly ‘A funny and sad rom-com that doesn’t sugar-coat the grittier parts of teenage angst.’ Readings Best Young Adult Books 2017 ‘The issues that are tackled in this book are important…Anxiety and depression, self-harm, suicide and grief are covered without making it feel like that’s all the book was written to do.’ Boffins Books

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kelly (Diva Booknerd)

    Ava is barely surviving in the depths of despair after her friend takes her own life. As the moments pass Ava is inconsolable, engaging in abusive and destructive behaviour, now expelled while involved in a non committal sexual relationship with Lincoln. Seeking solace in one another. Ava is an incredible character, her despair is palpable as she navigates life after Kelly, a vivacious young woman who was diagnosed with depression and committed suicide. Gideon is a quiet, young poet with anxiety, Ava is barely surviving in the depths of despair after her friend takes her own life. As the moments pass Ava is inconsolable, engaging in abusive and destructive behaviour, now expelled while involved in a non committal sexual relationship with Lincoln. Seeking solace in one another. Ava is an incredible character, her despair is palpable as she navigates life after Kelly, a vivacious young woman who was diagnosed with depression and committed suicide. Gideon is a quiet, young poet with anxiety, baring the pain of self harm. With the assistance of his councillor and medication, Gideon performs Slam poetry by sharing his experience with small audiences. Throughout the quiet, solitary moments, Gideon meticulously considers scenarios, moments of reflection while retreating to the sanctuary of his bedroom until bravery ignites. Beautiful Mess is a wonderful reflection of complexities of adolescence. Palpable, poignant and captivating, the narration of two adolescents finding moments of solace in one another. Six months prior, Ava lost her childhood friend Kelly to depression, leaving behind a family in despair. Ava feels unsupported by her peers and teaching facility, offered counselling without compassion and understanding. Ava's father is a single parent and a wonderful support, compassionate and maternal while Ava momentarily finds comfort in a physical, although considerably toxic relationship with Lincoln. Ava's narrative also examines mental health through her own undiagnosed depression after losing Kelly and enrolling in The Alternative Program, who offer counselling and education for teens unsupported by the traditional education system. Gideon is an extraordinary young man who upon the advice of his therapist, composes slam poetry as a instrument to express his experiences with illness. Gideon is often socially incapacitated and with the encouragement of his family, engages in acts of bravery to defy his social anxiety. A wonderfully peculiar young man, Gideon is disengaged with the online world and preferring to communicate through the artistry of writing letters in which he and Ava communicate. The concept was charming and allowed both Gideon and Ava to share their experiences while easing Gideon's transition into the tentative friendship. Kintsukuroi they call it. They take broken pieces of porcelain and they repair the cracks with gold. Making it as it was, but new again. They believe that the cracks can make something more beautiful, more valuable. A wonderful inclusion of diversity. The late Kelly is bisexual and Maori, Ava is of Greek heritage, Gideon's parents are in a female, same sex relationship and the discussion of depression, suicide and anxiety was magnificent and wonderfully represented. I appreciated the reiterating of the importance of prescription medication and counselling. Too often young adult literature promotes the mental well being of adolescents as an illness to be remedied by a love interest and I applauded the discussion of mental illness as a chronic condition that fluctuates upon a wellness spectrum, Gideon a quintessential example. Claire Christian is a captivating, compassionate and remarkable debut author composing a narrative that will linger long after the final page. Exquisite Australian young adult literature.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Danielle

    Actual rating: 4.5 stars I did not expect to love this book as much as I did. It was so, so good. Full review to come on my blog: www.thechroniclesofdanielle.wordpress... Actual rating: 4.5 stars I did not expect to love this book as much as I did. It was so, so good. Full review to come on my blog: www.thechroniclesofdanielle.wordpress...

  10. 4 out of 5

    Samantha (WLABB)

    The title did a good job setting me up for a story that was both beautiful and messy. This book was a total emotional rollercoaster, and I have to admit, I really loved the ride. • Pro: My heart belongs to Gideon. I fell in love with this awkward, tenderhearted, skinny boy, who wrote amazing slam poetry, loved his family to pieces, and bravely fought his depression. • Pro: The poetry featured in this book was incredible. I don't think any of the poems failed to bring tears to my eyes, but I also The title did a good job setting me up for a story that was both beautiful and messy. This book was a total emotional rollercoaster, and I have to admit, I really loved the ride. • Pro: My heart belongs to Gideon. I fell in love with this awkward, tenderhearted, skinny boy, who wrote amazing slam poetry, loved his family to pieces, and bravely fought his depression. • Pro: The poetry featured in this book was incredible. I don't think any of the poems failed to bring tears to my eyes, but I also loved that Christian put a spotlight on how amazing art is as an outlet for pain. • Pro: Not only did this book have incredible poetry, there were also a myriad of letters between Ava and Gideon, which were so sweet and funny and made my heart do a little flip flop. • Pro: Both Gideon and Ava scored in the family department. Ava's dad was trying so hard to support his daughter as she grieved, and he even went to bat for her in some tough situations. His love for Ava was obvious, and they shared a really lovely connection. Gideon's moms were too fabulous and so was his sister. I loved their dynamic, and there were so many heartwarming on-page moments with them. • Pro: I was really pleased with the way all the mental health issues were addressed. There was a positive stance towards medication and therapy, as well as alternatives to talk therapy. There were times, when Kelly or Gideon were trying to help people understand their depression, which really hit home for me, because they totally captured my own feelings. • Con: The whole time I was reading this book, I was thinking "5-stars", but then at 91%, Christian did something that made me yell, "WTF". It sort of frustrated me. • Pro: BUT, she did give me a nice, jump-ahead ending, which left me feeling happy and hopeful. Overall: A beautiful and messy story of grief and loss, told with humor and lots of heart. *ARC provided in exchange for an honest review. BLOG | INSTAGRAM |TWITTER | BLOGLOVIN | FRIEND ME ON GOODREADS

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sprinkled Pages

    debating between 3.5 stars and 4 stars i liked how well written this was and the exploration of grief as well as the fantastic characters! at times, it wasn't as relatable but still a solid and addictive read. for more, read my no spoiler book review: https://sprinkledpages.blogspot.com.a... debating between 3.5 stars and 4 stars i liked how well written this was and the exploration of grief as well as the fantastic characters! at times, it wasn't as relatable but still a solid and addictive read. for more, read my no spoiler book review: https://sprinkledpages.blogspot.com.a...

  12. 5 out of 5

    rachel ☾

    i hate that those last fifty pages made me go from 'this is the most represented i've ever felt' to 'what the hell did i just read make it stop'

  13. 5 out of 5

    Grace

    LOVED: - The Anxiety Representation and - The Poetry aspects BUT I didn't find interest in the characters and everything else besides the things above.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jocelyn (foxonbooks)

    I raced through this 'issue-heavy' Aussie YA this week. Raw, honest and really engaging, I related so well to the protagonists even though I've not been in a similar situation. A great read.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    "Maybe being bored is a good thing. Because what that actually means is that things aren't like they were. And that's all I ever really want, for things to never be like they were." "I tend to not really make choices that are based on my own happiness and so I figured I'd start trying to do that a bit more." "It doesn't feel exciting. It just feels...nothing. which completely freaks me out because what if it's not what I want? What if there is nothing to be excited about or look forward to anymore "Maybe being bored is a good thing. Because what that actually means is that things aren't like they were. And that's all I ever really want, for things to never be like they were." "I tend to not really make choices that are based on my own happiness and so I figured I'd start trying to do that a bit more." "It doesn't feel exciting. It just feels...nothing. which completely freaks me out because what if it's not what I want? What if there is nothing to be excited about or look forward to anymore and what if this is the way I'm going to feel about things for the rest of my life?" Soundtrack: Someone To You by Banners

  16. 4 out of 5

    Toby

    Exactly what I needed. A joyous novel that gave me all of the feelings and reminded of so many moments in my own life. With two protagonists who are damaged little fuckers in their own ways you may not be sure who you love the most or want to hug and help with the pain but the time you spend with them will make you smile and laugh and feel warm from head to toe and gasp at their errors and groan at their stupidity and grow alongside them. It’s a YA. I am not its target audience. I would never ha Exactly what I needed. A joyous novel that gave me all of the feelings and reminded of so many moments in my own life. With two protagonists who are damaged little fuckers in their own ways you may not be sure who you love the most or want to hug and help with the pain but the time you spend with them will make you smile and laugh and feel warm from head to toe and gasp at their errors and groan at their stupidity and grow alongside them. It’s a YA. I am not its target audience. I would never have read this book if i hadn’t had the pleasure of meeting the author and hearing her speak so passionately and eloquently but there are entire chapters where I was reading in a busy brewery and feeling like they were so exceedingly well written that i wished i hadn’t been drinking the rather spectacular hazy ipa and sitting somewhere peaceful instead to allow me to fully appreciate the storytelling skill on display. Colour me fully surprised.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jenna

    An absolutely stunning exploration of grief, mental illness, love and friendship. My heart is very full.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    Beautiful mess will leave you in just that ... a beautiful mess.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Diem

    4.5 I haven't finished a book in one sitting in a long time. I loved this, you guys. Loved it. It made me very weepy and achey. But also made me all shivery and happy. Do yourself a favour and grab yourself a copy of Beautiful Mess when it comes out. And the cover, I love it even more now that I've finished reading about Ava and Gideon. Proper review to come on the podcast.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Trisha

    Intense, inclusive, insightful.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Tamsien West (Babbling Books)

    The rage and sadness of teenage girls is so rarely given space and time in any kind of media to be explored with the nuance it deserves. Which is why I loved Beautiful Mess so much. It is about that rage, about grief and the complex ways it manifests. And I loved that even though many of the people around the protagonist didn't understand her pain, or the ways she expressed it, as a reader you were never prompted to feel either pity of frustration with her. Her actions made sense with you could The rage and sadness of teenage girls is so rarely given space and time in any kind of media to be explored with the nuance it deserves. Which is why I loved Beautiful Mess so much. It is about that rage, about grief and the complex ways it manifests. And I loved that even though many of the people around the protagonist didn't understand her pain, or the ways she expressed it, as a reader you were never prompted to feel either pity of frustration with her. Her actions made sense with you could see how painful losing her best friend to suicide had been. And how hard it was to feel completely alone. The awful memorial that the book opens with really struck a chord with me. Reminding me vividly of the funeral not long after I finished high school of a close friend. And seeing people who had bullied and excluded him going through a performance of grief while they had an audience still elicits prickles of anger more than 10 years later. Trigger warning for suicide.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Tara

    This beautiful mess got me deep inside in all the right places. I connected heavily with the characters, their experiences and their feelings. It is one of those books that I want to go back and start again straight away so I can get back in the story and help figure stuff out.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Gabby

    4.5 stars. This was such a beautiful and heartbreaking story about grief and pain and love. I loved it so so much - a new favourite!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Isabelle

    Gideon forever has my heart and that is all I will say about this book without crying.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Faith

    I so did not expect that to be so good.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Star

    Book content warnings: suicide, self-harm mentions, depression, mental health issues, non-graphic violence. (view spoiler)[ This book is heavy in parts. Teenage heavy – as in a lot of teenagers should be forewarned of its contents before reading. Our main characters, Ava and Gideon meet when Gideon starts working at the same place Ava does, Magic Kebab. Their interactions are limited at first, until Ava decides that Gideon is interesting, and Gideon forces himself to interact with her properly. Ava Book content warnings: suicide, self-harm mentions, depression, mental health issues, non-graphic violence. (view spoiler)[ This book is heavy in parts. Teenage heavy – as in a lot of teenagers should be forewarned of its contents before reading. Our main characters, Ava and Gideon meet when Gideon starts working at the same place Ava does, Magic Kebab. Their interactions are limited at first, until Ava decides that Gideon is interesting, and Gideon forces himself to interact with her properly. Ava has just lost her best friend, Kelly, to suicide, and is having a hard time dealing with everything and anything that life is presenting her. From school, to friends, to keeping her anger in check at the school idiots and principal. She just doesn’t understand everyone telling her that she’ll be able to “move on” with her life when she doesn’t understand how she could ever forget the pain she’s feeling at losing Kelly. Gideon is a poet, and has depression. He has self-harmed in the past, and sees a therapist, and takes medication for his mental health. The fact that this is so easily talked about in this book makes my heart warm. Because when I was a teenager, mental health was people locking you in an “insane asylum” and wrapping you in a straitjacket until you were forgotten about. People made crude and awful jokes about anyone with mental health issues, reducing them to being “crazy” or a horrid punchline. So to see mental health issues being talked about so easily just makes me so happy. Gideon and Ava start writing each other letters, after she finds out that she has no other way to contact him outside of work. And the more they get to know each other, the more they start to develop feelings – both romantic and sexual, for each other. Then Gideon does something that I find absolutely unforgiveable. He tells Ava that if she breaks up with him (after an incident at his school formal where he punches Lincoln (Kelly’s brother, and Ava’s sex-ex) that I found completely out of character for him), that if he “hurts himself” she is to blame. Thankfully, Ava still dumped his arse. Because that’s downright disgusting. You don’t do that to someone. Ever. At all. That is a massive no-no. And a huge violation of respect for your partner, and also the fact that she had recently lost her friend to suicide. Another thing that I found absolutely disgusting is the “dickhead policy” that happens at Magic Kebab. Again this might be a ‘me’ thing, but there’s something that Ava, and her boss, Ricky, do if they have dickhead drunken customers. The first is to put jalapenos on their kebab, or Ricky’s extra hot sauce, which no. That is so many levels of no to me – people have allergies, and someone could die. And the second is to charge them ten times as much for their kebab. And, as Ava describes plainly on the page their $8.50 kebab becomes $85.00 and the customers never even notice. These are two things that are described early on in the book and made my skin crawl. So this, coupled with Gideon’s dickhead behaviour of attempting to blame Ava if he hurts himself, dropped this down a few stars for me. That and Gideon never fucking apologises at all for a) punching Lincoln in a fit of pathetic jealousy, or b) for saying if he self-harms, it’s Ava’s fault. That made me so mad. I just can’t get over that. Obviously. Anyway. This was a 2 star read for me because of that. That aside, the mental health discussions in this book are incredibly important, and things I think should always be talked about more. I do also love that there are resources in the back of the book for anyone struggling with self-harm, or suicidal thoughts. That is extremely important to me if you’re writing a book that focuses so heavily on mental health. (hide spoiler)] 1/5 stars

  27. 4 out of 5

    Joan

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I received this as a Goodreads giveaway and loved it . An often heart wrenching, moving story of 2 damaged and sad teenagers- Gideon and Ava. Drawn together in an unlikely friendship, tentively trusting each other with their deepest thoughts, healing some of the hurts they felt.. Sometimes happy and often sad but always feeling very real.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    there were a lot of things I love about this, aside from the gorgeous cover. I felt it attempted to show the effects of mental illness, not just have them talk about how sad they are. it actually impacts Gideon and Ava's lives in the opening scenes of the novel. I also love the depiction of seeing a psychologist (you can tell I'm a psych student). It's presented really positively. They liked their psyc, they didn't see them because they were "mad", and it's was helpful both teens liked their par there were a lot of things I love about this, aside from the gorgeous cover. I felt it attempted to show the effects of mental illness, not just have them talk about how sad they are. it actually impacts Gideon and Ava's lives in the opening scenes of the novel. I also love the depiction of seeing a psychologist (you can tell I'm a psych student). It's presented really positively. They liked their psyc, they didn't see them because they were "mad", and it's was helpful both teens liked their parent/s letter writing and poetry (I love both) having a character say both tizzy and foibles. I had some issues with the ending, I felt certain scenes never quite got resolved. overall though, I liked it.I found it gripping and relatable and I really felt the emotion.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Rob De

    Having had the pleasure of meeting Claire at this years Text award night I was very keen to read her book. It was the winner of the Text award last year, which automatically guarantees it will be published, emphasising why it is such a great award for up and coming authors. It is a truly touching story of broken and damaged young people trying to navigate their way through real problems. The two main characters are the essence of the story- Ava, whose best friend has committed suicide, and Gideon Having had the pleasure of meeting Claire at this years Text award night I was very keen to read her book. It was the winner of the Text award last year, which automatically guarantees it will be published, emphasising why it is such a great award for up and coming authors. It is a truly touching story of broken and damaged young people trying to navigate their way through real problems. The two main characters are the essence of the story- Ava, whose best friend has committed suicide, and Gideon, who has severe anxiety and self esteem issues as well as many scars from previous self harm episodes. I can't give away too much yet but suffice to say you will love it! They are amazing characters with obvious flaws while still being very real and raw and by slowly finding each other are able to begin the healing process. Gideon's poetry is a real highlight and the whole story is fantastic with not too much of 'won't the world all be wonderful in the end'. I highly recommend this novel and praise Claire for her great work.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Clare Snow

    TW: Suicide, Self harm I have things to say, including: I finished 3 days before book group! WTF I'm sure book groupers have things to say too. I might write things after. And reading this finished my two February Book Challenges. Didn't think that was gonna happen. I love this cover. It has shiny.

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