‘I remember my Nana once saying everyone should have at least one good summer in their lives, one summer that they never forget. I think, this is not a bad way to start my sixteenth year. This is not a bad way to start our summer. And I give Joe a slow smile.’
Sixteen year old Lou wants to be thinner. Joe is her best friend and last night they found something they shouldn’t have in his older brothers’ wardrobe. Leon and Travis are shady figures, living shadier lives, and one summer, Lou and Joe find themselves mixed up in the drama, the confusion and the violence. Will Lou’s weight loss obsession spiral out of control? Is Marianne, her self-harming friend, really her friend, or an enemy in disguise? And will Lou and Joe ever be more than just best friends?
Reluctant drug running, extreme dieting, kissing the wrong boys, family drama and first love. Lou Carling is about to have one messy summer.
Having loved every book I’ve read by this author so far, I bought the rest of her books last year, and have been looking forward to working my way through them all. The Mess of Me was yet another brilliant read.
This author’s stories are always emotive, gritty and real feeling with great characters, and this was no different. I loved every minute of it. I didn’t want to put it down, but it is quite long, so I was forced to read it over a few nights. However, I looked forward to picking it up each day to find out how the story would progress.
It probably comes as no surprise to you that with a title like The Mess of Me, this story does cover some sensitive subjects. In this case, an eating disorder, self-harm, drugs and violence. All of which are approached in a very real and sometimes hard-hitting way. I couldn’t get enough of this book and the emotions it triggered within me. I really felt myself getting emotionally involved in the lives of the characters, especially teenagers Joe and Lou who have been best friends forever.
This book made me feel really nostalgic, as my first best friend was a boy too. I believe our mums met each other in hospital, as we were born a day apart from each other, and Paul’s family lived very near us, so we saw each other a lot. Playing together when our mums met up. We went to nursery school together. Walked to primary school together, sometimes holding hands, and my other friends teased me that he was my boyfriend, but I insisted we were just friends. We grew apart as we got older and made new friends of our own. Paul went to a different secondary school to me, so we completely lost touch then, but reconnected on Facebook many years later. Now we always message each other two days in a row each year on our birthdays. In fact, I’ve broken our tradition by messaging him today, as this book triggered a memory and I’m now convinced Paul’s dad was a magician, so I’ve had to ask him if I’m remembering things correctly or not. I hope I don’t have to wait until next January for a reply, ha ha. (Update: I’ve had a reply, and yes his dad was a magician. Yay).
I’m pleased to say, being so young, we had less issues to deal with than Joe and Lou in this book. Although, there was that one time when we were probably around six years old, when the teachers told us we could play in the snow but were not allowed to throw snowballs because it was the wrong kind of snow. Except Paul did throw a snowball at me during playtime, so I threw one back at him, and clearly I won this game, as I managed to slit his eye open! Oh my goodness, I can still hear him crying with his hands over his face, and there being blood. He obviously had to be taken to the doctors or hospital to get it sorted out, while I was told off by two teachers and my parents, who made me write a hundred lines that evening. Something along the lines of “In future I will always do as the teacher tells me.” I need to see him in person again one day, even if it’s just to see if he still has the scar near his eye. Talk about making a lasting impression!
As you can see from all my nostalgic ramblings, this book clearly brought back a few very old memories for me. Other books by this author have done the same. Authors say how wonderful it is when a reader gets what they’re trying to say in a book. But that feeling can happen the other way round too. Sometimes you pick up a book, and you think, this author gets me, and the characters understand me. For me, this was one of those books. Books like this remind me why I love reading so much. It’s not about just witnessing words on a page. It’s reliving the memories you thought you’d forgotten. It’s spontaneously messaging an old friend because of something you read. It’s briefly meeting up with that girl inside you again after so many years, and remembering what made you the woman you are today.
This was very much a 5 star read for me, so if you enjoy realistic, gritty, character led young adult novels, then I highly recommend The Mess of Me.
Where to find this book: