How to Be Brave

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Author: E. Katherine Kottaras
Release date: November 3, 2015
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Pages: 288
Formats: Hardcover, eBook



Georgia has always lived life on the sidelines: uncomfortable with her weight, awkward, never been kissed, terrified of failing.

Then her mom dies and her world is turned upside down. But instead of getting lost in her pain, she decides to enjoy life while she still can by truly living for the first time. She makes a list of ways to be brave-all the things she’s always wanted to do but has been too afraid to try: learn to draw, try out for cheerleading, cut class, ask him out, kiss him, see what happens from there.

But she’s about to discover that life doesn’t always go according to plan. Sometimes friendships fall apart and love breaks your heart. But in the process, you realize you’re stronger than you ever imagined…
This fearless, big-hearted, deeply moving book will make you laugh, cry, and inspire you to be brave.


NOTE: This review is based on an eARC received by the publicity agency via NetGalley in exchange for my honest thoughts about the book.

The Review

HOW TO BE BRAVE is a mix of sad and sweet and heartwarming and empowering. It has an interesting and refreshingly different narrative that weaves these wonderful and important pieces of the main character’s life – memories, thoughts, feelings – into the main storyline. It introduces characters who feel authentic, experiences that feel believable, and emotions that feel real and relatable. It is a quick and engaging read that reinforces a positive and important message – to live one’s life bravely.

Georgia Askeridis has been struggling to find a way to to live her life without her mother in it. Her mother was the heart of the family. She was the bridge between her and her father. She was her strength, her courage, her happiness, her best friend. And her death left a huge void.

She wouldn’t be there to at the start of senior year to give her advice. She wouldn’t be there to help keep the family business afloat. She wouldn’t be there to make the holidays bearable, or see her graduate, or help her figure out what she wanted to do with her life. She wouldn’t be there for any of it.

But before she’d gone, she had given Georgia one directive – to live life, to do everything, to be brave. And even if it was scary or risky or embarrassing or felt impossible, she was going to try.

Author E. Katherine Kottaras wrote a story that was moving and genuine, sometimes funny, sometimes heartrending, sometimes delightful, sometimes thoughtful. She created a character to tell her story who wasn’t always easy to like or connect with but who was sympathetic and whose feelings and actions were understandable given her circumstances.

Georgia was at times angry, insecure, self-deprecating, judgmental. But she did strive to be better, to be positive, to grow, to be the brave person her mother wanted her to be but wasn’t able to be herself.

HOW TO BE BRAVE spans the course of Georgia’s final year in high school and reads very much like a slice of life with an ending that’s left open for all sorts of possibilities. It is bittersweet. It is uplifting and inspiring. It will make you smile, and laugh, and cry. And it will make you want to find your own way to be brave.

The Rating


About E. Katherine Kottaras

E Katherine Kottaras

E. Katherine Kottaras is originally from Chicago, but now she writes and teaches in the Los Angeles area. She holds an M.A. in English from the University of California, Irvine and teaches writing and literature at Pasadena City College. She is at her happiest when she is either 1) at the playground with her husband and daughter and their wonderful community of friends, 2) breathing deeply in a full handstand, or 3) writing.

Her debut YA contemporary novel, HOW TO BE BRAVE, is forthcoming from St. Martin’s Press (November 3, 2015). Her second book is tentatively set for a 2016 release.


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