Author: Madeline A. Rosenberg
Published: February 24th 2016
Anna thinks she’s finally found the guy who’s perfect for her, Trevor. After an especially devastating heartbreak, Trevor was the one who got her on her feet again. The attraction between them is obvious, but then Anna’s ex-boyfriend, Michael enters the picture with the intention of getting Anna back. Tanya, Trevor’s ex realises too late that she is still in love with him and tries to ruin Anna’s and Trevor’s perfect relationship. As if that wasn’t enough, Anna has a painful past which affected her current personality and made her insecure. She hopes her relationship with Trevor will result in the fairy tale ending she has always envisioned.
Hot Mess is a really great term to sum up the entire story; it really was a mess. Not in a negative way, but exactly in the way the author planned it to be. Anna was just another typical teenager. She put the agenda of getting a boyfriend first and foremost over her studies. She was described in the story as being someone whose beauty wasn’t obvious; people either hate her or love her. I think I could group myself in the middle of both extremes. There were times I understood why she did what she did and other times, I can’t help but feel exasperated by her actions and her words. Being in her early twenties, Anna still retained her high school immaturity and she was ruled more by her heart instead of her head. But that part everyone can relate to because I’m sure most of us must have made a really silly choice at least once in our youthful days.
Interestingly enough, I found the lives of the female characters of the story more eventful than the male ones. Tanya, being Trevor’s ex-girlfriend was a popular girl back in high school, so I expected her to be entirely different to Anna but instead, her personality was surprisingly similar to Anna. The both of them were insecure and, I must say, equally selfish. Like Anna, Tanya also places her appearance and her looks at the highest priority. Due to the similarities between both characters, I see it as if Trevor moved from one Anna to another Anna.
It would be good to note that all of the significant male characters in Hot Mess were attractive and handsome. That would explain the complicated emotions both Tanya and Anna went through. Like in most teenage novels, relationships between the various characters mostly overlapped. For example, a friendly relationship took a sharp turn and turned into a romantic relationship before reverting into a friendly one the next day. No wonder teenagers have lives resembling an emotional roller coaster. But the bottom line was that every one of the characters was depending on someone else to help them up; they expected to receive help from their friends and acquaintances instead of actually getting up by themselves. In doing that, they made their relationship problems bigger than it should be.
What I enjoyed reading in the story was the issues that was explored along the way. Some were issues that probably every teenager went through but the others were major issues that have to be taken seriously. Like in most places, smoking and going for parties and drinking alcohol was a norm. Anna went for parties too, but I admired the fact that she knew when she was unable to drive home. She knew when she has a little too much alcohol in her system. The other issues were having friends with benefit; how it affects the two people involved, how it’s like having parents who just can’t understand how the teenage mind works. The main issue was the insecurities and anxiety that teenagers go through as they step into the world and make the shift to being adults. The issues that demanded attention were drugs abuse and eating disorders. Hot Mess tells of the disastrous results of taking drugs. At the same time, the characters in the story had to learn how to deal with the death of someone close to them and how to cope with the hurt and the grief.
Hot Mess was set in a town where everyone knew everybody else. It was a place where new and rumours spread like fire and it’s a place where Anna, Tanya, Benji and the others dreamt of getting out of when they grew up. The story was told from the third person point of view but sometimes I feel as if the author puts herself into the story, asking rhetorical questions at the end of most chapters and slipping statements in between telling the story.
There wasn’t much growth in the characters but there were subtle changes in Anna especially, for the better.
Thank you to the author, Madeline A. Rosenberg for providing me with the book for review.