Review Blog

Feb 16 2018

Beautiful mess by Claire Christian

cover image

The Text Publishing Company, 2017. ISBN 97819254988547
(Age: 17+) Winner Text Prize. Themes: Mental Illness; Suicide; Grief; Coming-of-Age. The mess that occurs in Ava's life is not going to get cleaned up easily - her best friend has died. Gideon's mess is almost paralysing as he struggles with anxiety and fear. These two teenagers are in a maelstrom of torment and nothing is working well for them. Poor choices, counselling and family are all twisting over, under and around the two central characters, and moving forward does not seem to be an easy option. Into this emotional storm involving mental illness and a sudden death, Ava and Gideon become each other's support and pinpoint of hope - but will their connection create opportunity to move forward or will it create its own whirlpool?
This is a deeply moving story as it reveals the emotional torture of enduring the very toughest of circumstances. What could have been an incredibly sad tale is cleverly sprinkled with poetry and laughter - and real hope, even when things do not go according to plan. Each of the central characters communicates their viewpoint through alternating chapters, which gives incredible insight into the impacts of their actions onto a fledgling friendship. Claire Christian has introduced two very identifiable characters and has written a very raw expose of teenage life, as some make very unwise decisions either under the influence of grief, mental illness or because of the pressures of trying to solve things on their own. Counselling is shown as a valuable resource in dealing with life's battles. The language is coarse, substances are consumed, the sexual encounters are described with some detail, and the mental health issues are incredibly confronting - even for an adult. Be cautious in placing this book in the hands of an immature or vulnerable reader.
Caution: Language issues; Drug taking; Sexual behaviour (described with some detail); Suicide.
Carolyn Hull

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