Published by St. Martin's Press on November 3rd 2015
Genres: Young Adult
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.
How to Be Brave is a book I was really looking forward to, because I’ve grown to love books that have to-do lists. They’re an easy way of implementing a fun plot and create character growth. Georgia, the main character in this novel, needs her to-do list as a way to start living, a promise she made on her mother’s deathbed. Try everything, do everything, and live your life. That’s the tagline for Georgia’s Live Life list, which includes things such as “get high”, “go skinny-dipping”, “join a tribal dance class”, and “trapeze”. Armed with a best friend, a new friend who likes to live on the edge, and potential boyfriend material, Georgia’s about to get more than she bargained for.
First of all, I really liked Georgia. I love how she actively tried to think Positive Thoughts throughout the day, and decided to make a list in order to live. These are all things that really resonated with me and I could really relate to her. There’s also this:
“After pulling my hamstrings during my one wild attempt to be a marathoner, I made a new commitment to run only if being chased by a bear or some other frothing wild animal.”
Yup, sounds like me, alright.
I thought this book was going to be light-hearted and funny, and it was, but there were also a few deeper subplots in the book. For one, Georgia’s new friend Evelyn has given up on caring about just about anything and is bordering on depression. Then there’s a prosaic verse at the end of every chapter, describing what it was like to watch her mother wile away due to illness. It was hard to read at times, but I appreciated what it was trying to do. There’s more to this story than your average teenager’s problems, and I really liked that.
There was also a really conservative father, who preferably saw his daughter wed at 70, but at times, I could really relate to him as well:
“You make life too complicated, and you’ll have nothing but regret. See what you have now, right in front of you. It’s all here. Your friends. Ice cream. Hot fudge. You know, just enjoy it. You do not know when it will be gone.”
This is basically what it’s all about – to enjoy the little things in life and enjoy what you have right now. I appreciate both lifestyles here – enjoy the little things but also reach for the stars. The sky is the limit. Your sky, your limit. But do make time for ice cream and hot fudge.
What I didn’t like was the skinny-shaming. Georgia was big and she felt comfortable in her bigness, which would’ve been great if she’d left it at that. Instead, she continues to pick on skinny girls, with their tiny arms and even tinier bras, and wonders if they even know how to eat. A lot of people advocate against fat-shaming, but it goes the other way around as well. Every body is beautiful. Yet of course Georgia loses weight by the time she’s ready for a relationship. I know she did this because of her health and her mother, but still, it’s amazingly convenient. That’s the one thing that really bugged me.
Overall, though, this was a good read. Something for your summer list.
“But being brave isn’t about living every minute exhilarated. It’s about waking up and knowing that despite the worry and the sadness and the deep, dark fear, you’re going to go forth anyway. That you’re going to try anyway. That you have a choice, and you’re going to choose to live, today, bravely.”
Thank you NetGalley for providing me with a copy