Book Review: The Mess of Me by Chantelle Atkins @Chanatkins #Book #Review #YA

Goodreads Synopsis:

Everyone has one summer they will never forget. Lou Carling is 16 and obsessed with getting thinner. Joe is her best friend, and last night they found something they shouldn’t have in Joe’s older brothers wardrobe. Travis and Leon are shady figures, leading shadier lives, and during one summer Lou and Joe find themselves pulled into the drama, the confusion and the violence. Will Joe go to any lengths to impress his older brothers? Will Lou’s obsession with losing weight 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? 

My review

This is the first book I’ve read from Chantelle Atkins and I loved it. I’m amazed that this is her debut novel, it was that good.

It is an emotional, character driven tale about a sixteen-year-old girl coping with the difficulties of being a teenager and living within a broken family (her mother is separated from Lou’s father and is in a new relationship.)

Lou doesn’t want to be that overlooked, overweight girl anymore. The passages about her not wanting to eat are powerful and frightening to read.

The Mess of Me is also a tale of friendship, of love, mothers, daughters, parents and sons. There are many hard hitting topics throughout including escalating family violence, alcohol and drug use, drug trafficking, self harm, and cries for help but these subjects are handled with great sensitivity. The dialogues are sprinkled with wonderful teenage banter to add touches of humour to lighten the narrative.

Brilliantly done. 


My two favourite characters were Lou and her best friend Joe who she’s known forever… since she was a baby! Marianne, and Joe’s older brothers Travis and Leon were also well written as were all the adults in the book. Perhaps the only character I felt less connection to was Sara, Lou’s older sister.

Life can be confusing and awkward for teenagers but this also applies to adults too! I loved how The Mess of Me conveyed our vulnerability, our frailness, how making mistakes and bad choices can have a huge impact on our lives and the lives of those we love. Sometimes parents get it spectacularly wrong and The Mess of Me does a fantastic job of portraying that flip side too.

There are many wonderful scenes with Lou and her mum chatting, drawing closer together, beginning to understand each other. I was so touched by these, having two daughters myself, remembering those teenage angst flare ups made me cry. As a parent all you want is for your children to be happy, safe and well and when that is threatened the fear and helplessness is immense. I don’t want to go in too much detail for fear of spoiling the book for you but The Mess of Me portrayed that fear and hopelessness so well.

 
After finishing The Mess of Me I was left with a sense of hope rising up from this dark tale. I enjoyed it on so many levels.


I will definitely read more from this author. One of my favourite books of 2021. 


Highly recommended – 5 stars. 

I will be interviewing Chantelle about Chasing Driftwood – her creative writing group soon.

In the meantime… check out Chantelle’s writing…

Connect with Chantelle at:-

https://chasingdriftwoodwritinggroup.org/
Author at https://chantelleatkins.com/

photo

Review by Marjorie Mallon
YA/Paranormal Author/Poet/Reviewer at Kyrosmagica Writing and Blogging

https://mjmallon.com 

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Marje @ Kyrosmagica

Hi. Welcome to my blog: M J Mallon - Kyrosmagica Publishing. A blog about magic, books, writing, laughter, and much more! I'm a debut writer, my first YA fantasy novel The Curse of Time - Book 1 - Bloodstone is set in Cambridge. I write book reviews on my blog and on Goodreads. I have a penchant for travel and have relatives in far flung places, Australia, Malaysia, and Singapore, (my birthplace.) I grew up in in Bonnie Scotland, in Edinburgh, and now live in Cambridge. I love sunny, hot places, particularly Rome, Venice, Portugal, Barcelona, and I forgot to mention the sun drenched beaches of the Caribbean, how could I? I am lucky to have been blessed with two lovely daughters and a husband who I fondly refer to in this blog as my black sheep. Family joke! With my passion for travel, culture, beautiful beaches, good food, books, theatre, writing, and humour, I hope to keep you entertained. I'm loving every minute of this creative journey, please join me.

5 thoughts on “Book Review: The Mess of Me by Chantelle Atkins @Chanatkins #Book #Review #YA”

  1. That is such a powerful review, Marje. The author should congratulate herself as it is a debut novel. The Mess of Me by Chantelle Atkins certainly sounds a book to read!

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