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How to Be Brave
by E. Katherine Kottaras

originally published November 3rd 2015
published by St. Martin’s Press
young adult | contemporary | romance

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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.

[PLOT] typical | not quite there yet | cute | unique | kicks serious ass | what’s going on?!
[PACING] snail’s pace | slow | just right | fast | holy crap just stop | inconsistent
[DIVERSITY] none :sadface: | some (minor characters) | LGBTQ | mental health | characters w/ disabilities | racial | religion
[ROMANCE] insta-love | realistically paced | slow-burn | love triangle | love square | I am confused | none | it’s complicated
[FEELS] swoons | tears | laughs | cries of frustration | eye rolls | pukes | snores | screams of horror | holy shits
[WRITING] flowery proseconversational | choppy or cluttered | telling, no showing | boring | info dump-y | simple
[ENDING] cliffhanger | open ending | satisfactory | was that an ending? | want moarrr | didn’t get far enough | ehhh
[RECOMMENDED?] heck no | eh | to select people | mostly | YAS

Book Review

The Contents of a Generic “Bucket List” Book How to Be Brave

1. A “damaged” or emotionally unstable heroine. At first, I kind of adored how Georgia was really pushing herself to think positively and to pull herself up–she was that way for the entirety of the book. She does a lot of body-shape shaming, though. She shames on both skinny girls and weighty girls. At some point I just wanted to shove myself into the book to tell her that no one’s perfect!

2. “Quirky” best friends to join in the bucket list fun. In How to Be Brave‘s case, the best friends, to me, were kind of inconsiderate and kind of asshole-y. We have Liss, who hangs out with people who were bitchy to her best friend. There’s also Evelyn who’s weird as fuck and doesn’t make any sense half the time.

3. Stereotyping. I honestly can’t think of a character in this book that isn’t a stereotype of some sort. Georgia’s the “fat” girl who gets bullied by the queen bees, Liss is the best friend who could be “popular” if not for hanging out with Georgia, Evelyn’s the best friend who can’t get enough of getting high– The list goes on, folks.

4. A tacky and kind of pointless bucket list. Okay, I’ll admit, there were a few items on the list that I did like and thought were cute (ex. “Try out for Cheerleading”), but majority of them were either typical and/or had no real purpose (like cutting class, skinny-dipping and things like those).

5. Weird-ass pacing. At the beginning of the book, I was basically just going, “What the crap is going on?” That feeling lessened as the book went on, but still. There were also some scenes that just randomly popped up and didn’t seem to have any decent transition.

6. A hint of grief. The synopsis promised me a LOT of grief and anguish, but I honestly didn’t feel anything until the last 10% of the book. Maybe that’s just me being a rock, which only happens once in a blue moon.

7. Flowery prose. Most of this book’s told in your typical, simple, conversational tone, but there are a few scenes here and there that’s told in this sort-of poetry style that’s VERY flowery and lyrical and choppy. I’m the kind of person who isn’t into those things, unfortunately.

8. A cute love interest and an aww romance. Guys, Daniel is so adorable. He’s sweet, friendly, and with that I-want-to-pinch-your-cheeks-so-bad occasional awkwardness. His romance with Georgia was light and wasn’t the whole purpose of the book, which is great.

9. Lots of character development. Yes, I did just rant A LOT about the characters and their shitty ways. But I did end up liking/tolerating most of them by the end of the book, especially Georgia. Each character realized things about themselves and others, and some of them even changed for the better.

Skulls 2

YOUR TURN!

Have you read How to Be Brave? Do you want to? Do you like bucket list books? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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About Aimee

Aimee loves being a little bookworm (okay–she doesn’t like being little). She also loves chocolates and sweets but is freaked out by the thought of possibly getting diabetes.

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16 thoughts on “Review: How to Be Brave by E. Katherine Kottaras

  1. I’ve finished How to Be Brave a couple of days ago and I think I gave it 3 stars. I struggled so much with the book and all it did was frustrate me and get me angry. I didn’t connect with the MC at all and Liss was one of the most terrible friends ever. I thought their fight would clear things up, especially when Georgia stood up to her – but no, they instantly made up. And they both just abandoned Evelyn even though she told them they were her only real friends … I was disappointed.

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  2. Wow, this sounds really disappointing. I cannot stand books that stereotype to the point of ridiculousness. I mean, honestly we all stereotype sometimes, but come on. This book honestly seems like it would be irritating. Thanks for toughing it out and writing an honest review!

    Tracy @ Cornerfolds

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  3. Great review! The summary sounded really sweet and fun but it really does sound like so many ya novels I’ve read. I might give it a shot and see for myself but I’m dreading all the body shaming!! :/

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  4. Aw man, I just won a copy of this too. :( So, I can work with character development, that’s a plus! But the bucket list stuff DOES sound stupid. I mean, why bother? Why does anyone NEED to go skinny dipping in life? I don’t think that needs to be anyone’s life goal, but whatever. And I know she’s supposed to be the “fat” girl, and I don’t know what the actual character is like, but the cover shows a very, very UN-fat person. The body shaming stuff is frustrating, but it is real. I do it every day to myself. So I can’t fault her there, but it isn’t okay to shame other people- I feel like that is something she would have more control over. So sorry this didn’t work out for you, and thanks for letting us know why!

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  5. Hm. Since there have been so many bucket list type books recently I was hoping this one would have some really fun or different things on it that would set it apart. While that doesn’t seem to be the case, the romance at least sounds adorable which is always a win for me. Sorry this wasn’t quite as strong as you hoped Aimee, but I’m glad Georgia grew on you by the end!

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  6. Well, Daniel sounds wonderful (can’t hardly resist sweet & adorable part) but, the bucket list and characters, in general, do not sound too fantastic. I’m glad though that by the end, there’s some growth at least.
    Thanks for the great (honest) review, Aimee!! Better luck with your next read :)

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  7. The synopsis definitely sounds like a generic bucket list book. Those characters sound interesting, and the plot… odd? My library doesn’t have it but I don’t think I’ll try to read it. *shrugs*

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  8. Oh godddd look at all those cliches and tropes seen so often in contemporary fiction! I’m not a fan of realistic YA in the first place, and seeing all these overused, banal characteristics makes me run away from it. Thanks for the warning review, hehe!

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