More Happy Than Not is a hard book to review. I read so many positive reviews about that one, I was a bit scared to get into this with loads of expectations, and I am grateful to have waited a bit until the hype died down to do so. And now I can safely say, this hype is deserved.
A NOT SO HAPPY WORLD
“We all make mistakes… but it’s also a step in the right direction. If nothing else it’s a step away from the wrong one.”
This title is very, very misleading, because More Happy Than Not is million of miles from the happy contemporary you might expect to read. If there are little glimpse of hopes through the story, it’s a hard story to read, because it deals with so many hard subjects. It’s not afraid to show the truth as it is, the truth of the world we might be living in. Poverty, racism, judgment, fights, questions of identity, lying to yourself and to others are some of the main themes of the story, and from the first pages, you get thrown into this unforgivable world. This is no fluffy contemporary, but this is no ordinary dramatic contemporary either : Adam Silvera added a twist of science fiction in the story, making this all the more interesting to read. Following the life of Aaron, whose dad recently killed himself, living with his brother and mother in a tiny apartment in the Bronx, we soon discover that this ordinary world has an interesting twist to it in the form of a scientific procedure, allowing people to forget. From the accident they provoked to who they are, deep inside, this originality definitely added this something more to the story you might be looking for.
REAL, FLAWED CHARACTERS
“It’s weirdly possessive and obsessive to like someone; you want to learn all of his stories before anyone else and sometimes you want to be the only one who knows at all.”
Something really interesting about this story, despite the setting, are the characters. They are unforgivably real. In these words, meaning that they are selfish, acting on instinct and even, sometimes, for what seems to be their own survival. No one’s perfect, not especially the main character of this story, Aaron. He’s confused about who is really is and who he is supposed to be in this world, he makes mistakes, he leads people on, he’s nothing but human and that, I really enjoyed. He was flawed, but so are we, which made this story achingly real. The set of characters surrounding him are all so flawed just as well, and the relationships linking them are very strong bonds, made on old friendships, made on rumors, they are built, put to the test, broken, and built up again. The diversity of the characters, added to this particular, vivid picture of this Bronx neighborhood, made for a very diverse and, well…vivid book to read.
A BIT OF CRYING FOR AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE
“I realize I’m crying a little, too. I remember. Sometimes pain is so unmanageable that the idea of spending another day with it seems impossible. Other times pain acts as a compass to help you through the messier tunnels of growing up. But pain can only help you find happiness if you remember it.”
I was told that this book would tug on my heartstrings. I was told this book would make me weep and cry, and obviously I went in expecting to shed a few tears. I did, because like I might have said before, it was achingly real. The picture of the neighborhood, the characters, their life stories, their wants and needs colliding with what the world around them really is like…There’s no restraint, here. This world is difficult, it’s unforgivable, and at times, it was heartbreaking to read. This book is dealing with identity, what you really want to be, what you feel you are, deep inside, and who you should be, seen through the world’s lenses. Seen through this unforgivable world only accepting of one thing, everything that to them, seems like “normality”. Fit in a case and you’ll be happy. But this story isn’t about fitting in the case people, and the world, put you in. It’s about accepting that you might be stepping out of it, that this case might not be fully fitting, and trying to own it.
I have no idea how do to this important book justice in a review. I had a hard time getting into it, and it was a harder read than I thought it would be, because of the world. Because of the hard cold truth it told about some places, some people, some ways of thinking. But it’s a very important book to read, and a story to be told.
Final rating: 4 drops!
Did you read More Happy Than Not? Did you enjoy it? Do you want to read it? Share your thoughts in comments!
Adam Silvera, More Happy Than Not, Published by Soho Teen, June 2nd 2015.
In his twisty, gritty, profoundly moving debut—called “mandatory reading” by the New York Times—Adam Silvera brings to life a charged, dangerous near-future summer in the Bronx.
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?