ARC Review – A Messy, Beautiful Life by Sara Jade Alan

I’m so pleased to be a part of the blog tour for A Messy, Beautiful Life by Sara Jade Alan! I LOVED this book so much, so be prepared to listen to me rave about it. And don’t forget about the Rafflecopter giveaway at the bottom of the post!

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To view the rest of the blog tour, check out this link!

All right, here’s the brief synopsis (with as few spoilers as possible!). Ellie is part of her school’s improv group, and they’re performing in a show at a nearby high school in Chicagoland. In a skit, she starts performing with this dreamy guy, and everything about them syncs perfectly, and she’s awkward and he’s bashful and it’s the most adorable thing. But then, when he tries to kiss her at a party, she falls down the stairs, is rushed to the hospital, and gets a little more of a diagnosis than she bargained for. Can she put this new guy, this wonderful guy, through all of her medical hoopla? Can she subject him to her messy life?

Well, it turns out her life is pretty beautiful too.

[A NOTE! The Goodreads synopsis and all others I’ve read has a huge spoiler in it! So just be aware of that – I wish I hadn’t read that before reading the book, and I left said spoiler out of my above synopsis.]


3 Things I Loved

  1. JASON. Okay, I’ve read a lot of contemporary YA (because I love it, obvs), but Jason is up near the top in terms of favorite book boyfriends. The meet-cute is fantastic and unique, the courting phase is as cute as can be, and Jason’s endless support for Ellie is inspiring and lovely and NO YOU’RE CRYING. He’s the best.
  2. Ellie’s circle of friends. The core of the book is really centered around Ellie’s friendship with Quinn and Hana, along with her step-brother Craig, which I absolutely loved. We need more awesome friendship stories in YA. Her friends were ride or die, and I loved reading that.
  3. The parents. A pet-peeve of mine about YA is that parents are so rarely present, or are presented as bumbling idiots. Not the case in this book! Ellie’s mom is there and part of so many scenes, and it’s realistic and heart-warming. Her dad and step-mother are also in a lot of scenes, and that conflict is also super realistic. Jason’s dad is in it, Quinn’s parents are in it – I just loved getting some parents! And they were all realistic parents! It seemed too good to be true at first.

Dislikes/Problematic Content

Honestly, I don’t have a lot to say here! I loved this book as a whole entity. It could have been a bit more diverse (all the main characters were straight and white, aside from Korean Hana, and Quinn’s dads), but there was some representation. There just could have been more. All the characters were like, small and skinny or lean and muscular too, which isn’t what I remember about high school, but hey, that’s a nitpicky thing at this point. Because I loved this. Loved loved loved.

EXCEPT WHAT THE HECK ENTANGLED TEEN WHY DID YOU PUT SUCH A BIG SPOILER IN THE SYNOPSIS?? I mean, I still loved the book, but it would have hit a lot harder had I not known that one thing that didn’t happen until halfway through the book.

HOWEVER: since I know the spoiler could trigger some people, here it is – content warning for cancer talk. There is cancer in this book, and it’s talked about, and for me, that was very refreshing. Oh, and it’s nothing like TFiOS. (It’s better.)


A reminder of the rating scale:

  • Red = DNF, I hated everything
  • Orange = Ugh, no thank you
  • Yellow = I mean, I’ve read worse, but there were problems
  • Green = This was good! 
  • Blue = Oh my gosh, I loved this book!
  • Purple = This is the unicorn of books and I will be rereading it until the binding falls apart and EVERYONE should be reading it!

This book, y’all. I can’t say how much I loved this book. I wanted to start reading it again just to read Ellie meeting Jason for the first time again. For this (and many other) reason(s), I’m giving A Messy, Beautiful Life a BLUE rating. So good, so cute, so lovely. Go read it. Maybe bring tissues.

Thank you to the publisher, to NetGalley, and to Chapter by Chapter blog tours for the advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my opinions in any way. And I’ll be purchasing a copy, because I loved it so much.

Author Bio (plus links)

sara_jade_alanSara 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.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Book Purchase Links:

Amazon | Amazon Australia | Amazon UK | Amazon Canada | B&N | iBooks | Kobo | Entangled

Hey hey! It’s a Rafflecopter giveaway!

Happy reading, everyone!



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