How to be Brave is about grief, surviving high school, and doing fun, worthwhile, risky, and dumb things (and those aren't always mutually exclusive). Georgia's mother has recently died from complications due to diabetes brought on by obesity. Georgia has always been the quiet, rule abiding, good girl, just trying to survive high school and avoid the "popular girls" who make fun of her for her weight. Prompted by a note from her mother though Georgia decides to spend her senior year being brave and living life, which she does by making a list of things to do, like cutting class, asking out the boy she's had a crush on forever, and trying pot for the first time - and then many more times. As she crosses items off her list (and some end up leading to questionable decisions that lead to additional pain) she begins to acknowledge how she feels about her mother's death and herself. While there is a romantic component (note the asking out the crush item) it isn't the focus - How to Be Brave is more about friendship and family. The mean girls came off as a bit stereotypical and cut straight from a Disney Chanel movie (they have to say something mean/snotty/snarky almost every time Georgia walks by because how else is the reader going to know to dislike them), but there is a bit of redemption for that in the end. It didn't have quite the same vivaciousness that Dumplin' had, but How to Be Brave shares similar trials and feelings and is an all around enjoyable read (plus it takes place in Chicago, which is always an added bonus for this reader).
If you like this book:
Dumplin' by Julie Murphy (seriously, it's great)
Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen
45 Pounds (More or Less) by K.A. Barson
TTYL by Lauren Myracle