By: Hannah Rapp, Young Adult Librarian
I hope you’re braced for another few weeks heavy on book talk, because boy have I been reading some amazing things lately. This is one that actually, I’m still a little unsure on – but it’s a book that’s stuck with me since I finished it almost a month ago.
What I Just Read: More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
What’s It About (Jacket Description): In the months after his father’s suicide, it’s been tough for 16-year-old Aaron Soto to find happiness again–but he’s still gunning for it. With the support of his girlfriend Genevieve and his overworked mom, he’s slowly remembering what that might feel like. But grief and the smile-shaped scar on his wrist prevent him from forgetting completely.
When Genevieve leaves for a couple of weeks, Aaron spends all his time hanging out with this new guy, Thomas. Aaron’s crew notices, and they’re not exactly thrilled. But Aaron can’t deny the happiness Thomas brings or how Thomas makes him feel safe from himself, despite the tensions their friendship is stirring with his girlfriend and friends. Since Aaron can’t stay away from Thomas or turn off his newfound feelings for him, he considers turning to the Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is.
Why does happiness have to be so hard?
Do I Like It: Well, as I mentioned above, I’m still not totally sure what I feel about this book. But since I’m still thinking about it and I will probably read it again, I think I’ll go with yes on this one!
Thoughts: First off, let’s be really clear – I think this was an excellent book in terms of writing, theme, plot, characterization and more. My mixed feelings have to do with a couple of things that could be construed as flaws, but mostly with my own personal feelings about the book. So, let’s get to it.
More Happy Than Not is without question a gripping, super readable book. Thanks to the sense I got of Aaron’s New York and the realistic dialogue, even the scenes or sections where it seemed like not much was happening were still great to read. And when things began to pick up with the arrival of Thomas and strife within Aaron’s friend group, it became even harder to put the book down. The best parts of this book for me were the way the side characters and Aaron’s interactions with them really informed the plot and his character growth, without any of them ever being reduced to only the role they play in Aaron’s story. In fact, I felt like I wanted to read books about Genevieve, Thomas, Evangeline, Aaron’s brother and Aaron’s mother, since they all so clearly had their own stories. But this was Aaron’s story, and as in real life, it was his interactions with these people around him that really drove it.
There is an abrupt shift in the way the story moves forward about two thirds of the way through, and a development I found really unexpected towards the end, which I think is where my conflicted feelings come from. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – I haven’t made up my mind how I feel about these turns of events, but I do plan on re-reading this book down the road to try and make sense of what I think. And given that my standard for good books is usually whether or not I would re-read them, More Happy Than Not certainly passes that test with flying colors.
If you’re looking for a nearly realistic fiction book (the near-future/sci-fi element is so light it’s almost unnoticeable) that will make you think, an immersive experience into a tightly knit neighborhood and group of friends, a character-driven but still gripping novel or an exploration of some philosophical questions through a great narrative voice, More Happy Than Not is a book I would highly recommend. It’s sure to leave you with plenty to think about and lots of feelings. And if you do read it, please come talk to me about it, because I’m dying to discuss this one!