How to be Brave by E. Katherine Kottaras is an intense and wildly inappropriate book that is more like an R-rated chick flick than a Young Adult novel.
Georgia Askeridis is a 17-year-old girl who has always been an outcast. She has always been embarrassed about her weight, awkward, and afraid of disappointing people. Then when her mom dies of kidney and heart failure, her mother’s only instructions are to “be brave” and “try everything.” Georgia makes a list of everything her mother was never able to do. In the process she learns that “trying everything” isn’t always the best course of action.
This novel has an inspiring theme but is poorly executed. There is every offensive element that personally I know my mom would never let me experience in literature or film. There is teenage drinking, vulgar language (including many uses of the f-bomb), sexual references, illegal drug use by teens, and hand in hand with that is a suicide attempt by drug overdose. Usually Young Adult novels only include one or two of these elements, but this book includes excessive amounts of all of them. The role model is mediocre at best and uses drugs illegally without any direct punishment. It also portrays the drug marijuana with a positive connotation. The themes left me wondering what the author was thinking when writing this book. This novel could have been very inspiring by emphasizing her idea of being brave and making her mother proud instead of glorifying the constant abuse of drugs. Because of the intense themes, I would say this book is for ages 16 and up at the least, with a lot of consideration from the parent on what they think is appropriate for their teen.
The general idea is potentially inspirational, but with the plethora of inappropriate concepts I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone. Even for an older reader, I wouldn’t say it is an enjoyable or worthwhile read.