[Review] How To Be Brave by E. Katherine Kottaras

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An emotional contemporary YA novel about love, loss, and having the courage to chase the life you truly want.

Reeling from her mother’s death, Georgia has a choice: become lost in her own pain, or enjoy life right now, while she still can. She decides to start really living for the first time and makes a list of fifteen ways to be brave – all the things she’s wanted to do but never had the courage to try. As she begins doing the things she’s always been afraid to do – including pursuing her secret crush, she discovers that life doesn’t always go according to plan. Sometimes friendships fall apart and love breaks your heart. But once in a while, the right person shows up just when you need them most – and you learn that you’re stronger and braver than you ever imagined.

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November 3rd, 2015

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Arc kindly provided by the publisher, via netGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

It takes courage to become an adult. You have to be brave in order to survive the teenage years but we all grow up at some point, right? In this book, we follow Georgia’s struggling journey to adulthood.

Writing Style

I love first person POV when used properly and when the author focuses on feelings. I could really relate with Georgia because of the good writing style. There was description followed by feelings, thoughts and then dialogue. I felt like there was flow to the story and the writing style as well. What I didn’t really like was that at the end of every chapter, there was a poetic paragraph that bored me. Sometimes it’s ok to give a poetic touch to contemporary stories because they make them more emotional. In this particular book I think I didn’t need this. The book was emotional enough already and I was seriously skipping this paragrpahs. They were a bit useless.

Also being Greek gives me the advantage to understand greek perfectly well, obviously. Surprisingly, there was an impressive amount of greek phrases in the book but reading them felt so wrong because they were not used correctly. I don’t blame mrs. Kottaras because the language is difficult and I hope that this happened because this is just an arc and it’s not edited yet.

I really don’t mean to offend her but I think a little bit more research would have helped. I could even help her correct the mistakes before the book gets published.


I loved the plot, I think it hit me right in the feels. A chubby girl, who’s mother died recently, tries to survive frienship, love and reality. I found it so so so realistic and I think it’s the first time I’ve ever read a contemporary book with real, teenage drama and not too much unrealistic drama.

Anyway the pace was good and I finished the book really fast because it was interesting to see if Georgia will manage to complete her goals.

I also loved how friendship was glorified and how much it means to have a true friend who can’t live without you and is able to forgive your silly mistakes.

What I didn’t like is that Georgia was getting high because she felt brave while doing so and I think it was wrong. You’re brave when you’re not a drug addict. I didn’t like that using drugs was portraited as something brave. No, I absolutely do not mean to say that mrs. Kottaras is encouraging teenagers to do that, don’t get me wrong. What I gathered from the book is that these are actual problems in America. Teenagers can easily be manipulated to smoke and do drugs because it’s only natural and it’s not that dangerous. I think it is and I think people should start reading about how to prevent using drugs and how to be in control of situations like that.


Georgia was a troubled teenage girl, living with a single parent who was lost in his grief. I didn’t blame her for her actions because I don’t even know how I would react in situations like the ones she was experiencing. She was a loyal friend and yes she might have doupted her friend at some point but she found the courage to accept everything even though they were just assumptions.


This book was not really for me. I think I am too old to be able to really enjoy reading about teenage drama BUT it was a good book in general. I think people need to work a bit more and correct a few mistakes and it will be better. My best wishes to the author. Hopefully people will like it.


[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.

If you have questions or would like to contact her directly, please visit her at ekatwrites.com.

4 thoughts on “[Review] How To Be Brave by E. Katherine Kottaras

  1. I probably won’t read this because it doesn’t really appeal to me but I think it’s interesting that they showed drugs as something brave. Maybe the character believed it was? Either way, I don’t think it was a good move precisely because of what you mentioned about it’s influence on people.

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