Welcome to my stop for the A Messy, Beautiful Life Blog Tour! I will be sharing my review and will also have a link for a giveaway below.
A Messy, Beautiful Life by Sara Jade Alan
Publication Date: October 2, 2017
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Life is funny sometimes.
And not always the ha, ha kind. Like that one time where a hot guy tried to kiss me and I fell. Down. Hard. And then found out I had cancer.
I’m trying to be strong for my friends and my mom.
And I’m trying so hard to be “just friends” with that hot guy, even though he seems to want so much more. But I won’t do that to him. He’s been through this before with his family, and I’m not going to let him watch me die.
So, I tell myself: Smile Ellie. Be funny Ellie. Don’t cry Ellie, because once I start, I might not stop.
This book was surprisingly funny. I know it’s a book where the main character has cancer, but it wasn’t the whole focus of the book which I loved.
Early on, cancer isn’t mentioned. The first part of the book allows the readers to really get to know the amazing people in this book. Ellie is hilarious and inspirational. She is in high school living with mom. Her dad had remarried and she has a step brother, Craig. Ellie’s dad kind of bailed with her somewhat crazy step mom and left Craig back home to finish high school. Ellie does improv comedy and Craig is really into music. At first, they don’t get along well at all, but we start to see this amazingly sweet side of Craig. He ended up being one of my favorites. He became such an incredible brother and friend.
Ellie has two best friends, Hana and Quinn. Both do improv with Ellie. While their group is performing, Ellie meets Jason. The way they end up together is adorable. Jason is such a nice guy and not just faking it to get the girl. He’s genuinely good. It is during a party when Jason goes to kiss Ellie and she falls. Nothing is broken, but her doctor finds cancer in her bone. It’s a very rare cancer and Ellie faces amputation. She goes through every emotion you can imagine, but she keeps her humor through it all. Even doing a comedy routine that focused on cancer jokes. She was able to joke a lot while still being terrified. She was determined to live her life.
“Ellie, hello. Come on in. Looks like those crutches are making you buff.”
“Yes, I’m getting the shoulders I need to fulfill my body-builder destiny.”
Jason’s mom died from cancer the year before, so Ellie tries to keep it from him. She doesn’t want to be a burden on a guy she just met, but really likes a lot. He’s been through so much already. But I think it’s part of what made their relationship stronger. He was able to talk with her about all of it.
What I loved most about this book (besides the positive outlook) were the relationships. There was so much focus on that. Yes, the cancer was a big part, but it was really the love and friendship. Also Ellie’s strength and fears. Ellie’s realtionship with her mom also stood out. There was so much love there and I was able to tell how honored she felt to have Ellie as her child.
“The Vicodin didn’t like me. I spent the entire night and morning after surgery throwing up every hour. Nothing like having your mom wipe vomit off your face and dress you to make you feel mature and ready to be an adult. College, here I come.”
I didn’t know until I finished that the author had this cancer. It made the book even better to me. She’s obviously a very special, strong woman, and I thank her for writing something so personal.
I received a copy of this book from Entangled Teen through Netgalley for review. This one gets 4 1/2 stars.
Link to Goodreads:
From the outside, it must have looked like a weird improv girl about to lie right on top of a strange boy. Onstage. In front of almost two hundred people.
We had been doing near-acrobatics for the past two minutes. Snippets popped into my mind—entangled arms, wrapped legs, arched backs. My brain processed the building energy of the audience, the rising laughter, the hoots and whistles, and I realized our scene must have looked like an epic dry-humping session.
Mortification enveloped me, like all the naked, peeing nightmares of childhood but without the happy escape of waking. I feared this might be one of those shuddery life-moments to etch a forever-home on my memory’s instant-cringe list.
And yet. The rare connection, the out-of-body-ness… I understood what it felt like to be in the moment. I also knew there was “in the moment,” focused but aware, and really in the moment, where everything outside the scene slipped away. It was what I’d read about in all our improv books—like some Holy Grail of improvisation. But I hadn’t known it was possible to totally “lose your mind” and be completely in the moment. Now I did, and it was fun.
If only it could have happened in private.
But it hadn’t. And we were still in it—I was hovering perilously close to his face, as all this flashback processed in the embarrassment quadrant of my brain in an instant. I made the mistake of looking him in the eyes.
Our faces were so close. His lips formed a shy grin on one side, revealing a single, irresistible, dimple. We cracked up, and I released the rest of my weight onto him in a fit of nervous laughter, my head falling in the crook between his neck and shoulder. My nose informed me I had a new favorite smell. As he brushed off some of my hair that had fallen in his face, his arm mashed against me in a nice and only slightly suffocating kind of way, and he shouted, “Will someone please yell freeze already?”
Someone from the audience yelled, “No! We’re waiting for you to do it.”
“Yeah!” the whole audience agreed in unison.
And then they chanted, “Do it! Do it! Do it!”
Oh my God. It hit me that I was, in fact, still laying on top of him. Super speedily I stopped sniffing him like some crazed wildebeest and jumped up, only to be left standing downstage, caught and bewildered, a flush of embarrassment crying out like a face tattoo.
I decided I really should quit improv.
It would make life so much easier.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Sara Jade Alan wrote her first comedy sketch during second grade recess, then cast it, directed it, and made costumes out of garbage bags. Since then, she has performed in over a thousand improvised and scripted shows all over the country. When she lived in New York City with her college improv group, she worked as an assistant to a best-selling author of young adult novels featuring strong female heroes and was completely inspired by her books and the awesomeness of her teen fans. Spending a year on crutches, Sara turned to writing her own young adult stories and was hooked. Currently, she is one-half of the comedy duo, The Novelistas, who perform about writing and teach performance to writers. Hailing from a suburb of Chicago, Sara now lives in Colorado with her husband—who she met in that college improv group—and daughter, who they waited a bunch of years to make. She is a member of and guest instructor at Lighthouse Writers Workshop.
Link to Tour Schedule:
A Messy, Beautiful Life prize pack , which includes a Messy, Beautiful Life tote bag, a DVD of the anime rom-com Ranma 1/2, Disco Ball Keychain, and a Bag of Marshmallow Mateys Cereal.
Tour hosted by Chapter by Chapter.