Courage for Beginners by Karen Harrington

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Title: Courage for Beginners

Author: Karen Harrington

Published By: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (2014)


Twelve-year-old Mysti Murphy wishes she were a character in a book. If her life were fictional, she’d magically know how to deal with the fact that her best friend, Anibal Gomez, has abandoned her in favor of being a “hipster.” She’d be able to take care of everyone when her dad has to spend time in the hospital. And she’d certainly be able to change her family’s secret.

Seventh grade is not turning out the way Mysti had planned. With the help of a hot-air balloon, her new friend Rama Khan, and a bright orange coat, can she find the courage to change? (Taken from Goodreads.)


 I think most people will enjoy this sweet story; there isn’t anything necessarily wrong about it. Just for me, I was looking for something better, a story where something actually happens. While it’s not my type of story, I think most people will enjoy it thoroughly.

In reality, Courage for Beginners is not a story about a girl who makes something happen; it is about a girl who gains the courage to decide to make something happen. And while I get the concept of the story, I didn’t particularly enjoy it.

There was nothing I directly disliked about this book, but on the same note, there was nothing I really loved, either. To me, the story was boring; absolutely nothing changed throughout the course of the book. The main character, Mysti, starts her story with her dad in the hospital, her mom being agoraphobic, and her best friend ignoring her. The story ends with her dad in the hospital, her mom agoraphobic, and her best friend ignoring her. Just… disappointing.  True, Mysti has decided to do something about it by the time you reach the last page. She has decided to change her story. But before we can find out how exactly she will do so, the book ends.

For good points: I have to love Karen Harrington’s creativity at 1) giving her character a name like Mysti, and 2) making Mysti a person who thinks she is legimately a character in a book (ha, ha) because that is exactly what she is. Mysti herself was lovable and determined. Her friend Rama was well portrayed of the role of an encouraging friend. I admired Mysti’s determination to help her family. Overall I did understand the whole story idea, that she is working to gain the courage to change her story; I just would have enjoyed it a bit more if there would have been included a section where she actually went through with it.

Negative Content/Notes:



I feel bad giving this book such a bad review when it really isn’t a bad book, but I truly just did not enjoy it. 2.5 stars.

Rating: 2.5 / 5.0

Recommended to: Wouldn’t recommend. Ages 8+

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