Book Review: Brave Enough by Kati Gardner

I requested an arc of Brave Enough because I knew Kati Garner was having a launch event at my bookstore, and I was so happy when I was selected for a copy! I realized the event was coming up, so I decided to read it. I finished it in one sitting and I couldn’t stop smiling the whole way through. It was so adorable. I am so glad I read it, even though it was a bit out of my comfort zone being a contemporary story.

Kati Garner is an Own Voices author, which means that she is also a cancer survivor who had her leg amputated, just like the main character Cason in the story. I am really glad I read this book, because I learned so much about what kids with cancer and addiction go through. I know I still have so much more to learn, and that’s okay because I am willing to do it. I want to help.

Now, on to my review! I will hopefully post a recap of her launch event! I’ll link it here when it’s up, and link this on the recap.

Brave Enough by Kati Garner, published August 21st, 2018 by Flux. Intended reading age is 14+. Strong language and themes are used throughout the book.

Publisher Description:
Teenager Cason Martin is the youngest ballerina in the Atlanta Ballet Conservatory. She never really had a choice of whether she learned to dance or not. Her mother, the conservatory’s artistic director, has made all the decisions in Cason’s life. But that’s about to change. Cason has been hiding an injury, and it’s much worse than anyone imagines.

Davis Channing understands all too well what it’s like to give up control of your life. He’s survived cancer, but his drug addiction nearly killed him. Now he’s been sober for seven months and enjoying his community service at the hospital. But just when he thinks he’s got it together, Davis’s ex-girlfriend, who is still battling her addiction, barrels back into his life.

Cason and Davis are not friends. But, as their worlds collide, they will start to depend on one another. Can they both be brave enough to beat the odds?

My Thoughts:
Like I said above, I adored this book. I was drawn immediately to Cason’s character. I loved how hardworking and driven she was. Likewise, I also really didn’t like her mom very much. I loved her mom’s character development, though, especially since she was a side character in this book. I really admired Cason throughout the book too. I know that if she was sitting here right now she was see me saying that as pity but it’s not pity, it’s awe. I know I would not have been able to handle what she went through as well as she did.

I am almost as in love with Davis as Cason is. He was an amazing character. I was impressed with his will power and his kindness, his drive to help others out. I really admired his commitment to stay sober, and I know he struggled but I’m proud of him. I loved how willing he was to volunteer at the hospital, helping his ‘patients’ when they needed a friend, and helping his friends when they needed him.

I was also a huge sucker for Cason being one of the only things to help him stay sober, and when he climbed into whatever bed she was sitting. It’s a weak spot for me in any story, and the fact that happened so much in this story made my heart happy.

One of my favorite parts was that fact that Davis wasn’t afraid to admit that he needed help sometimes, like when he would text Jase or go to his school counselor when he needed help, when the urge to use was particularly strong. Even showing up for his Narcotics Anonymous meetings and speaking from the podium to them about his struggles. You don’t see many YA characters admit they need help, let alone male YA characters. It was a nice change from the usual self pitying I-can-fix-this-on-my-own voice that we’re used to from other YA characters.

Another favorite part of mine was the Uno bets. Particularly the hair shaving bet, because it showed Cason that she could still take some control over her body. I really enjoyed the theme of Uno throughout the game, and it hit a special spot in my heart because my family plays Uno games all the time and it felt close to home.

And finally, one last favorite parts for me was how Cason was able to perform again, even though it wasn’t exactly like she envisioned. I was proud of her, and I’m glad her mom was there to watch her succeed. I actually looked up videos of aerial dancing on YouTube after I finished the book just to get a mental picture of what she was preforming.

My overall rating: 4/5 stars
Links to purchase Brave Enough: Quail RidgeBook Depository – Not available on Kobo


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