Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Blog Tour & Giveaway: A Messy, Beautiful Life by Sara Jade Alan

Book Blurb:

A Messy, Beautiful Life by Sara Jade Alan

Publication Date: October 2, 2017

Publisher: Entangled Teen

Life is funny sometimes.

And not always the ha, ha kind. Like that one time where a hot guy tried to kiss me and I fell. Down. Hard. And then found out I had cancer.

I’m trying to be strong for my friends and my mom.

And I’m trying so hard to be “just friends” with that hot guy, even though he seems to want so much more. But I won’t do that to him. He’s been through this before with his family, and I’m not going to let him watch me die.

So, I tell myself: Smile Ellie. Be funny Ellie. Don’t cry Ellie, because once I start, I might not stop.

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From the outside, it must have looked like a weird improv girl about to lie right on top of a strange boy. Onstage. In front of almost two hundred people.

We had been doing near-acrobatics for the past two minutes. Snippets popped into my mind—entangled arms, wrapped legs, arched backs. My brain processed the building energy of the audience, the rising laughter, the hoots and whistles, and I realized our scene must have looked like an epic dry-humping session.

Mortification enveloped me, like all the naked, peeing nightmares of childhood but without the happy escape of waking. I feared this might be one of those shuddery life-moments to etch a forever-home on my memory’s instant-cringe list.

And yet. The rare connection, the out-of-body-ness… I understood what it felt like to be in the moment. I also knew there was “in the moment,” focused but aware, and really in the moment, where everything outside the scene slipped away. It was what I’d read about in all our improv books—like some Holy Grail of improvisation. But I hadn’t known it was possible to totally “lose your mind” and be completely in the moment. Now I did, and it was fun.

If only it could have happened in private.

But it hadn’t. And we were still in it—I was hovering perilously close to his face, as all this flashback processed in the embarrassment quadrant of my brain in an instant. I made the mistake of looking him in the eyes.

Our faces were so close. His lips formed a shy grin on one side, revealing a single, irresistible, dimple. We cracked up, and I released the rest of my weight onto him in a fit of nervous laughter, my head falling in the crook between his neck and shoulder. My nose informed me I had a new favorite smell. As he brushed off some of my hair that had fallen in his face, his arm mashed against me in a nice and only slightly suffocating kind of way, and he shouted, “Will someone please yell freeze already?”

Someone from the audience yelled, “No! We’re waiting for you to do it.”

“Yeah!” the whole audience agreed in unison.

And then they chanted, “Do it! Do it! Do it!”

Oh my God. It hit me that I was, in fact, still laying on top of him. Super speedily I stopped sniffing him like some crazed wildebeest and jumped up, only to be left standing downstage, caught and bewildered, a flush of embarrassment crying out like a face tattoo.

I decided I really should quit improv.

It would make life so much easier.


My Review:

4.5 Out Of 5 Stars

Genre: Heart-Wrenching, Hysterical, Romance, Teen--

​Ellie is ready to enjoy her senior year of high school, perform in her improve comedy group and maybe talk to the cute boy, Jason, she just met (if she can cure herself of saying awkward comments to him!). But it seems like life has other plans for her when she ends up falling and passing out at a party while talking to said cute boy. Ellie is now facing a struggle for her life, the only things keeping her together is her sense of humor and her close friends and family. How can she even think of having a boyfriend when her life is up in the air.

I love cancer books, I seriously grew up on Lurlene McDaniel's stories, where all the main characters have an illness that may result in death (hence my family referencing them as "my death books"). No, I am not morbid, but something about the life and death struggle really speaks to me and it is just so life affirming, emotional and surprisingly uplifting. When I found this book and read the synopsis, I knew I needed to read this story, and it didn't hurt that the cover was so pretty! Ugh, the feels that this story brought to me! The story tugged on my heartstrings, making me so confused as to if I wanted to cry or laugh. This was such a well balanced read to not overwhelm the reader with sorrow but at the same time bring forth the seriousness of Ellie's struggle. I want a copy of this book to own so I can hug it to my chest and re-read my favorite parts when I miss it.

​I love how humor was used in the story, be it something big and in your face such as the hilarity of the Spanish music video they discovered or the subtle little comments (Ellie's mental-and verbal- tangents were the best!) I found so endearing.

​For example:

"...he had a particularly charming way of holding scissors. A charming way of holding scissors? Maybe there was a brain tumor in my brain."

"Mom returned and we were released with a bag of drugs, two crutches, one swollen leg (and a partridge in a pear tree)."

"'It wouldn't be wrong. He's not my brother. I mean, it would be wrong, but not because of bloodlines. What I mean is, it would be spiritually, chemically, emotionally, physically wrong. Anyway. We better find our parents- one of his and one of mine. He's my stepbrother.' With that Toast-Masters-worthy speech I wriggled out of his bear clasp and turned around."

"It was so absurd that I couldn't stop my first thought from popping out of my mouth. 'Really? That's so weird- I love sugar. Cancer and I must have a lot in common.'"

"It was a disco disaster. But the shimmies, the glitter, the commitment! There's a saying in improv: if you're going to fail, fail big."

Seriously, there were so many parts I wanted to share in my review, it took forever for me to pick just a few to include. So the take home message here is that I wanted to share the whole book which really means that I just need everyone to experience this story as well.

This was a very character driven story which I am always up for and the cast of characters here were so fun and quirky. Of course we have Ellie, our brave heroine who is trying to figure out how to keep going on and to do the right thing while her world is crashing around her. Besides Ellie, I think my favorite character was Craig- the unwanted step-brother who became like her real brother. When he hugged her at the hospital when she was first admitted and just let her sob on him was the moment I knew I loved Craig. Her two friends Quinn and Hana, as well as her mom, were the best support system imaginable. And then there is strong, reliable and sweet Jason with comments like "Plus, Mom told me to always follow my heart. To follow love". If that is not swoon worthy, I am not sure what is.

This was such a feel good story with lots of heart and a much needed romance. I would love to read more from this author because she has a may of creating people that I feel like know and connect to. Pick this book up if you want to laugh and possibly cry but overall be swept up in the journey Ellie takes.

I received this title for reviewing purposes.

Author Bio:

Sara Jade Alan wrote her first comedy sketch during second grade recess, then cast it, directed it, and made costumes out of garbage bags. Since then, she has performed in over a thousand improvised and scripted shows all over the country. When she lived in New York City with her college improv group, she worked as an assistant to a best-selling author of young adult novels featuring strong female heroes and was completely inspired by her books and the awesomeness of her teen fans. Spending a year on crutches, Sara turned to writing her own young adult stories and was hooked. Currently, she is one-half of the comedy duo, The Novelistas, who perform about writing and teach performance to writers. Hailing from a suburb of Chicago, Sara now lives in Colorado with her husband—who she met in that college improv group—and daughter, who they waited a bunch of years to make. She is a member of and guest instructor at Lighthouse Writers Workshop.

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