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Beautiful Mess - Claire Christian

Paperback Published: 28th August 2017
ISBN: 9781925498547
Number Of Pages: 304
For Ages: 15 - 18 years old

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Since Ava lost Kelly, things haven't been going so well. Even before she gets thrown out of school for shouting at the principal, there's the simmering rage and all the weird destructive choices. The only thing going right for Ava is her job at Magic Kebab.

Which is where she meets Gideon. Skinny, shy, anxious Gideon. A mad poet and collector of vinyl records with an aversion to social media. He lives in his head. She lives in her grief. The only people who can help them move on with their lives are each other.

Review by Sarah McDuling

Oh my gosh and wow. This book definitely gave me lots of feelings.

It’s a rare thing to find a book that is able to give you both intense emotional depth as well as a bunch of joyful LOLs. Beautiful Mess not only walks that fine line between drama and humour, it dances and twirls through the full gamut of human emotions, dealing with serious issues such as grief, depression and anxiety with both sensitivity and raw honesty.

First and foremost, this is a book about friendship and love. Ava is struggling with depression after a tragic loss. Gideon is crippled by debilitating anxiety. When these two meet they strike up an unlikely friendship that deepens into something more. And then … just be prepared for heartbreak. And laughs. And awkwardness. And joy. Ava and Gideon’s story grabbed me by the heartstrings and played merry havoc with my soul!

This bittersweet and tender story is guaranteed to capture hearts and minds. I shall be placing it on my shelf alongside Looking for Alibrandi and Six Impossible Things. A pitch-perfect read with lovable characters, heartfelt emotion and a poignant message, Beautiful Mess is one of my new favourites!

About the Author

Claire Christian is a novelist and playwright who lives in Brisbane. She has had three plays published by Playlab, and her play Bloom was shortlisted for the Griffin Award in 2009. She was one of the YWCA Queensland 125 leading women in 2013. Beautiful Mess won the Text Prize for Young Adult & Children's Writing in 2016.


A wonderful and sensitively written book


This book was so engaging and touched on a lot of important issues so sensitively. I went through a rollercoaster of emotions reading it, from sadness, to tears, to laughter and love. Really would recommend to any young person.

Sunshine Coast, Australia


brilliant debut from an author to watch


4.5 stars Beautiful Mess is the first novel by prize-winning Australian novelist and playwright, Claire Christian. When she actually attends, Ava Spirini is in Year 11 at MacGreggor State College, but her regular outbursts in the months since the death of her best friend, Kelly Waititi, have her on shaky ground. Insulting the principal, Mrs Bryan, abusing the school assembly and punching a classmate? Only so much can be excused due to grief before there are consequences. But they just don't get it: "…she wasn't just my best friend, she was my soul sister. And that kind of love doesn't end. You can't just move on from that." Hanging out (and more) with Kelly's older brother, Lincoln is a way to be closer to her friend, though she's not sure how Kelly would feel about that. At least her single Dad backs her up in every way, and her boss, Ricky at Magic Kebab, keeps her entertained. Gideon Franks-Meyer is in Year 12 at Ava's school. Despite unfailing support from his mums, Mandy and Susan, and his older sister, Annie, his battle with anxiety and depression has been a long and hard one. While he saw Ava's assembly meltdown and remembers Kelly, he's sure she won't recognise him when he turns up to do dishes at Magic Kebab. He's there because his therapist has suggested taking a "small, safe risk". Friendship with this fiery girl might be possible if he can overcome crippling shyness; if she doesn't think his poetry and record collection uncool; it's probably more than he could wish for. An alternating narrative gives both Ava and Gideon a voice: they are smart and perceptive, and between them, have many wise words to offer on mental illness. Their story features grief, guilt, self-harm (suicide and cutting), anxiety, depression, love, and friendship. It highlights society's fixation on being normal and demonstrates the importance of finding the right therapist. Gideon's poem "Broken" brilliantly encapsulates depression. While there's heartache, this is by no means



Beautiful Mess

5.0 2


`A raw, affecting coming-of-age story that starts a conversation about mental health.' * Readings *
`Claire is such a lovely bubble of positivity. I'm excited to see what she brings to Aussie YA.' * Danielle Binks, Alpha Reader *
`Beautiful Mess is a stunning read. Claire Christian has delivered a raw and moving debut with beautifully flawed, well-drawn characters who you can't help but fall in love with.' -- Gabrielle Tozer
`There are no easy answers in this book; its scenes explore debilitating anger and frustration, first sexual experiences and the importance of therapy in recovery. But there is deftness of touch in the writing and some genuinely funny moments. This is a strong, character-driven story from a talented playwright and novelist, which tackles some hefty issues with lightness and humour. It is an impressive debut.' * Books + Publishing *
`Beautiful Mess is a powerful, poignant novel about love, loss, and learning that even though we might feel cracked or broke at times, we are still beautiful...Claire Christian must be commended for tackling some of the most confronting themes in YA with sincerity and heart.' * Written Word Worlds *
`An engrossing read that brings together Ava and Gideon, two emotionally flawed and troubled characters not unlike Libby and Jack in Jennifer Niven's Holding Up the Universe or Eleanor and Park of Rainbow Rowell's book of the same title.' * Readings *
`Beautiful Mess tackles young adult issues head on, but with a lightness of touch that lifts it from the dark topics it explores. A debut novel with memorable, authentic characters that touch your heart, float into your life and leave you wanting more.' * Magpies *
`A truly touching story of young people trying to navigate their way through real problems. I highly recommend this novel and congratulate Claire on a great debut.' * Lamont Books *
`Claire Christian delivers an honest and searing depiction of the flow-on effects of grief...A book with a lot of heart and hope and a useful compass for teens facing similar issues.' * Kids' Book Review *
`Bittersweet and funny...A beautiful book with important words to say about mental health, love and brokenness.' * Paper Fury *
`Beautiful Mess is a wonderful reflection of complexities of adolescence. Palpable, poignant and captivating, the narration of two adolescents finding moments of solace in one another. Claire Christian is a captivating, compassionate and remarkable debut author composing a narrative that will linger long after the final page.' * Diva Booknerd *
`Beautiful Mess is the most sensitive explanation of depression and how it affects lives that I have ever read. If you read any other book and felt a bit uncomfortable about the depiction of depression, read this one and understand more. Recommend it to your teenagers, your students, your friends with teen kids. It might help them understand and recognise themselves in some of the pages.' * The Sapling *
`Tender and insightful...An enlightened look at youth suicide and mental health.' * New Zealand Herald *
`Claire has created an authentic and informative book for young adults, while also an enjoyable read.' * Tea in the Treetops *
`The characterisation is strong and works wonderfully with the sinuous dialogue. In these darkened lives there are some light and funny moments, cleverly crafted by Claire Christian...All libraries for young adults should stock at least one copy of this book.' * Reading Time *
`A raw, beautifully written story that sensitively tackles grief, suicide, self-harm and first sexual experience.' * NZ Women's Weekly *
`A funny and sad rom-com that doesn't sugar-coat the grittier parts of teenage angst.' * Readings Best Young Adult Books 2017 *
`The issues that are tackled in this book are important...Anxiety and depression, self-harm, suicide and grief are covered without making it feel like that's all the book was written to do.' * Boffins Books *

Beautiful Mess doesn't shy away from how rough the teen years can be, but also demonstrates the possibilities of healing and provides quite a few laughs to boot.'

* Readings *
'The characters are engaging, and their emotional struggles are palpable...While the majority of the plot is dark and grim, support from caring adults and siblings brings about an ending that is realistic and hopeful. -VERDICT Recommended for most public library young adult collections.' * School Library Journal *
'This page-turning novel displays a great deal of artful charm.' * Kirkus *
`Tender and absorbing, this debut novel from Australia tackles challenging topics...with an open and loving hand. It deals with myriad emotions and allows the healing process to be organic. The sweetness of the characters rises above the darkness they carry, and their honest desire for acceptance...will resonate with a wide range of readers.' * Booklist *

ISBN: 9781925498547
ISBN-10: 1925498549
Audience: Children
For Ages: 15 - 18 years old
For Grades: 10 - 12
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 304
Published: 28th August 2017
Publisher: Text Publishing Co
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 19.7 x 12.8  x 3.1
Weight (kg): 0.28