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5 stars: “A Messy, Beautiful Life appealed to every side of me: the theater geek, the romantic, the comedy lover, and the sister/best-friend who knows that family is only partly about DNA. I loved Ellie's journey...and it's not every book that can make you ugly-cry and snort-laugh within a few chapters.” -Rosemary Clement-Moore, author of Texas Gothic

5 stars: "Ellie’s story flew off the page and took over my heart while tickling my funny bone and messing with my tear ducts." –Victoria Hanley, bestselling author of Seize the Story: A Handbook for Teens Who Like to Write

5 stars: "The cover is beautiful. The story was beautiful, even if it was sad. The friendships will make you jealous and make you want your own pack. There was even diversity and LGBT representation in here that wasn't forced...It is so refreshing to see girls supporting one anotherThis is a good example of how YA books should be done. I highly recommend this book!" –Lacy, A Ravenclaw Library

5 stars: "This book has the perfect mixture of lighthearted, fun moments and moments that will shatter your heart. But it's beautiful and gives you all the feels. [...] Read this book!!!" –Nicole, Buchwolke Tumblr

5 stars: "A Messy, Beautiful Life, a perfect name for a perfect book. Sara Jade Alan gives you feels you’ve never imagined while reading a book. I cried, laughed, swooned, got angry, cried some more, and was left with such heartwarming sentiment and a bit of sadness when it was over." –Wit and Wonder Books

5 stars: "Sara Jade Alan rocked this story. There were just the right amount of swooning moments to keep me turning the pages. If you love phenomenal writing, a story that will blow you mind and warm your heart, this book is for you." –Victoria Bunce, Educator

5 stars: “I read this book in a public study area, and I had to bite my cheek to keep from tearing up. That's the kind of power with which Sara Jade Alan writes…And though there's undoubtedly a very serious theme here, I wouldn't call this book heavy. It’s funny in so many unconventional ways.” –Kelly, Goodreads review

5 stars: "One instant I was laughing and the next I had tears in my eyes when Ellie discovers that her world seems to be falling apart." –Sascha, Sascha Darlington's Microcosm Explored

5 stars: "I absolutely loved the story to this. It shows that bad things can happen but that there's always some ounce of good happening at that same moment." –Jackie, Dauntless Books and Penguins

5 stars: "I found this book saddening at the same time it was an empowering story as young teen Ellie shoulders her diagnosis and faces it all head on. [...]  Jason was a great boyfriend to her and doesn't back away because of the cancer, but if anything, shows he's there for her even more. A beautiful duo to read about." –Eve, Being Unique Being a Reader

5 stars: "A Messy, Beautiful Life made me cry so many times as it made me laugh. I read it all at one go because I couldn't let go." –Sabina, I Speak Bookish

5 stars: “I adored this book. Firstly, I loved Ellie as a main character. Her strength, wit, and resilience made me connect with her and root for her. The entire cast of characters, both friends and family, were all developed and full of life.” –Breeny, Goodreads review

Anchor 1




From the outside, it must have looked like a weird improv girl about to lie right on top of a strange boy. Onstage. In front of almost two hundred people.


We had been doing near-acrobatics for the past two minutes. Snippets popped into my mind—entangled arms, wrapped legs, arched backs. My brain processed the building energy of the audience, the rising laughter, the hoots and whistles, and I realized our scene must have looked like an epic dry-humping session.

Mortification enveloped me, like all the naked, peeing nightmares of childhood but without the happy escape of waking. I feared this might be one of those shuddery life-moments to etch a forever-home on my memory’s instant-cringe list.

And yet. The rare connection, the out-of-body-ness… I understood what it felt like to be in the moment. I also knew there was “in the moment,” focused but aware, and really in the moment, where everything outside the scene slipped away. It was what I’d read about in all our improv books—like some Holy Grail of improvisation. But I hadn’t known it was possible to totally “lose your mind” and be completely in the moment. Now I did, and it was fun.

If only it could have happened in private.

But it hadn’t. And we were still in it—I was hovering perilously close to his face, as all this flashback processed in the embarrassment quadrant of my brain in an instant. I made the mistake of looking him in the eyes.

Our faces were so close. His lips formed a shy grin on one side, revealing a single, irresistible, dimple. We cracked up, and I released the rest of my weight onto him in a fit of nervous laughter, my head falling in the crook between his neck and shoulder. My nose informed me I had a new favorite smell. As he brushed off some of my hair that had fallen in his face, his arm mashed against me in a nice and only slightly suffocating kind of way, and he shouted, “Will someone please yell freeze already?”

Someone from the audience yelled, “No! We’re waiting for you to do it.”

“Yeah!” the whole audience agreed in unison.

And then they chanted, “Do it! Do it! Do it!”

Oh my God. It hit me that I was, in fact, still laying on top of him. Super speedily I stopped sniffing him like some crazed wildebeest and jumped up, only to be left standing downstage, caught and bewildered, a flush of embarrassment crying out like a face tattoo.


I decided I really should quit improv.


My second book is a young adult novel about two young women finding their voices through their creativity, squashing their fears, and proving that female friendship can conquer just about anything.

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