Book Review: ‘How to be Brave’ by E. Katherine Kottaras

November 3, 2015     Holly     Reviews

Book Review: ‘How to be Brave’ by E. Katherine KottarasHow to Be Brave by E. Katherine Kottaras
Published by St. Martin's Press on November 3, 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fiction
Pages: 288
Format: ARC, eBook, Kindle Edition
Source: Review Copy
3 Stars

An emotional contemporary YA novel about love, loss, and having the courage to chase the life you truly want.

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.

When it comes down to it, How to Be Brave by E. Katherine Kottaras was just one I couldn’t hold onto with any sort of passion. And once again, it was a novel that seemed like it had a lot of promise, but was missing some key elements within the story to really make it a great read.

First and foremost, as many of you have found out from previous posts, I need my characters to be likable, relatable, and to hold qualities that make them worth my time as a reader. Sadly, Georgia didn’t make the cut. And I truly wanted to like her, because she’s not your average Young Adult heroine, who’s thin and strong and overly beautiful. Instead she’s overweight, self-conscious, and struggles with some very really issues throughout the book.

But often times, I felt Georgia was more mean and reckless than necessary, and while I wish I could blame these character traits on the loss of her mother, not even something as serious as that seemed like a good enough excuse for her behavior. I found myself not wanting to relate to Georgia in the slightest.

Now, the counter argument to this (and why I didn’t give How to Be Brave a flat out “nay”) is that while I might not be close enough with Georgia as a character, there are probably plenty of readers out there who can. And if that’s the case, she actually would make a pretty good protagonist in someone’s eyes.

And where I found her bucket list to be very immature and that worst definition of what it means to do “brave” things that I’ve ever come across, I’m sure that someone out there will find her goals to be worthwhile and the ideal way to get outside of one’s comfort zone. It’s not for me, but I also wasn’t anything like Georgia as a high school senior outside of sharing the same skirt size.

Honestly, because I had such a negative reading experience with How to Be Brave, I feel a little bad giving it a negative review. I understand completely where Kottaras was trying to go with the novel, and I’m a really big believer in giving heroines a chance to shine that are outside of the YA norm. But it just didn’t work for me in this novel. But don’t let my opinion sway from giving How to Be Brave a chance. There are plenty of reviews out there that found a lot of good qualities in the novel, and you might see the same thing.

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