I don’t think any of us are normal. We’ve all got shit going on, but we are all trying to convince each other that we’re normal … I think it would be so much better if we were all just honest and said when things were bad, or that we weren’t okay.
Sixteen year old Ava is in a world of pain. Her best friend recently died, it seems like nobody understands her and things at school are on a rapid slide downwards as she acts out in an attempt to cope. She knows she is in a bad place, yet cannot see a way out. The only stability in her life is her job at Magic Kebab and her Dad.
Gideon and Ava have been at the same school for the last four years, but Ava has never noticed him. He is in the year above Ava at school. He writes poetry, over thinks everything and keeps to himself. His life is carefully controlled and safe. Gideon’s therapist lines up a job at Magic Kebab to help him take a calculated small risk. It is meant to be a small step outside his comfort zone. But they didn’t account for Ava.
As Ava and Gideon work together they gradually let their defences down. The friendship that grows between them helps them to learn about themselves, the facades that people create to try to appear normal and the value of honesty and intimacy. It equips them to traverse the difficult paths they are following.
Beautiful Mess is an endearing story about love, loss, intimacy, depression and suicide. The expert use of alternating viewpoint describes the experience of the two teenage protagonists with authenticity. The insightful portrayal of the experience of depression and anxiety is noteworthy. The result is a memorable story for young adults about issues that are highly relevant in today’s society.