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How to Be Brave by E. Katherine Kottaras


Interests/Topics: challenges, bullying, friendship, death, grief, family

Curriculum Connections: English

Gender: F/M

Age: 14+

Blurb: You know what a bucket list is, right? It’s a list of adventures you’d like to complete before you die. Some people include crazy stuff like skydiving and bungee-jumping (as if), while others list academic goals like learning a new language or getting a Degree. I definitely fall into the second group of people because personally, I’ve never been on an airplane that I’ve felt the need to jump out of. But that’s just me.

Georgia, in How to Be Brave, honours her mother’s dying wish to be brave in everything she does. Well that’s easier said than done. Insecure and overweight, Georgia doesn’t have a lot of confidence when it comes to trying new activities. But she made a promise and now she has to stick with it.

Georgia’s bucket list includes activities like trying out for cheerleading and learning tribal dancing, skinny-dipping and attending trapeze school. And then there’s that one about kissing Daniel Antell. What was she thinking? The ideas sounded exciting when she put together the list, but now her best friend Liss is forcing her to tick them off.

It’s time Georgia discovers just how brave she is.

Flavour: “Her letter is in my bag. I rub the folds of paper between my fingers, close my eyes to imagine my mom’s pen running over it, her wrist touching the paper. I’m trying to think positively. To be brave. Okay, here goes. Positive Thought #1: I did it. I’m wearing the Orange Dress.” (9)

“[Liss] looks at me. ‘You have to do this.’

‘Do what?’

‘Do everything. Be brave. Just like your mom said. You have to do this. I’ll do it with you.’

‘I don’t understand. Do what, exactly?’

‘Like a bucket list. A Do Everything Before You Die list.’” (17)


“I’m angry at my mom for telling me to make that stupid list. I can’t do everything. I can’t be brave. And how dare she expect me to when she couldn’t even do it herself. And how dare she not take care of herself so she could tell me what not to do. Why I shouldn’t be doing things like smoking up and kissing my best friend’s boyfriend and failing at school and failing at life. She was supposed to be here to tell me not to do things, not to do everything.” (143)


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