about the book
Happy Messy Scary Love
Author: Leah Konen
Publisher: Amulet Books
Release Date: May 14th 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
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As everyone at her Brooklyn high school announces their summer adventures, Olivia harbors a dirty secret: Her plan is to binge-watch horror movies and chat with her online friend, Elm. Olivia and Elm have never shared personal details, apart from their ages and the fact that Elm’s aunt is a low-budget horror filmmaker. Then Elm pushes Olivia to share her identity and sends her a selfie of his own. Olivia is shocked by how cute he is! In a moment of panic, assuming she and Elm will never meet in real life, she sends a photo of her gorgeous friend Katie. But things are about to get even more complicated when Olivia’s parents send her to the Catskills, and she runs into the one person she never thought she would see. This sweet and funny summertime romance is perfect for fans of Love and Gelato and The Unexpected Everything.
Olivia is one of my favorite characters I’ve written, partially because I have so much in common with her. She’s a writer, for one, and currently experiencing a particularly painful bit of writer’s block (which we’ve all been through at one point or another). Not to mention, she loves all my favorite horror movies, finding them just as creative, genre-bending, and addicting as I do.
To really get into Olivia’s character, I wanted to explore a couple of things. One is self-esteem and the pressure on women and girls to put a “perfect” physical image out into the world. This pressure is part of what contributes to Olivia making a very bad decision in sending her online pen-pal Jake a photo of her best friend, instead of herself. Secondly, I wanted to look at self-esteem from a different angle—our beliefs about our own work and passions. Just as Olivia doesn’t want to send a photo unless it’s perfect, she doesn’t want to put any writing out into the world unless it’s perfect as well. As she learns in Happy Messy Scary Love, there is no such thing as perfect writing (or a perfect appearance), and her fears of failure only cause her to get in her own way and jeapordize the things she truly cares about.
Olivia’s journey is one we’ve all been on—learning to accept yourself and put yourself out there—whether in relationships, writing, or even a summer job that gets you out of your comfort zone. Only by taking risks and accepting imperfections in herself can she go after what she truly wants.
About the author
Leah Konen is a graduate of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she studied journalism and creative writing. She’s the author of the forthcoming HAPPY MESSY SCARY LOVE, LOVE AND OTHER TRAIN WRECKS, THE ROMANTICS, THE LAST TIME WE WERE US and THE AFTER GIRLS. She lives in Brooklyn and Saugerties, NY, with her husband and their dog, Farley.