Author: E. Katherine Kottaras
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Age Group: Young Adult
Release date: November 3rd, 2015
Pages: 288 (Hardcover)
Rating: 5 out of 5
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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.
Georgia begins her senior year of high school with one tip from her mother: be brave. She wants to be able to do things she's never done before. She wants to do them for herself, and her mother, who never got the chance. Those were her last words to Georgia before she passed away, so in order to achieve her mother's final wish, she creates a bucket list. For the first time, Georgia wants to stand out. She faces her bullies by trying out for cheerleading, she meets new people and even asks out the boy of her dreams. Who knew you could accomplish so much if you just try?
How to Be Brave is one of those books that grabs a hold of the reader from the very beginning. Personally, I could relate to Georgia, because my dad passed away from similar complications when I was around her age. Losing a parent is one of the most difficult things you have to go through in life, and doing so at a young age seems even more unfair, because you still have a lot of growing to do without them. The author captured every emotion perfectly, from the grief to the way Georgia and her father began the healing process.
With the help of her best friend, they begin to cross things off the list one by one. Go skinny-dipping, kiss her crush, take tribal dancing lessons. While they do, Georgia discovers a lot about herself. She overcomes her self-esteem issues, fear, and pain along this journey, and it's quite emotional to watch. There were many times where I had to blink past the tears in my eyes just to read the words on the page. She learns to love herself and forgive others. Not everyone is the person that they want others to see.
This book will break your heart and patch it back up again. Over the journey, Georgia loses herself a bit, but she makes the right decisions to improve. She's just a girl who is trying her hardest to live with the hand she's been dealt. Georgia is far from perfect, but her story becomes about doing what's right for her. How to Be Brave is an honest and incredible coming-of-age tale that I believe many people will be able to resonate with, for one reason or another.