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?
“We’re scarred enough, okay?” I am a wreck. I already knew this book was going to break my heart before I was even half-done with it. Here’s the ugly truth. I would have given this book five stars, if only it didn’t break my heart so much. I know, pathetic beyond words. Part of me does not want to go through such an emotional turmoil again, but a greater part of me wants to recommend this brilliant work to the world, so here I am.
Why you should read this book:
It strikes too close to home: Ours is a world that is stricken by multiple tragedies – homophobia, social stigma, and peer pressure among others; a world where suicide is considered a comforting act, an escape from bouts of pain and insecurity. It’s a terrifying world, a world with an ugliness we seem to have comfortably snuggled into. To go on and on would be pointless, but to me, this book has done a great feat by capturing just about every sad and terrible thing our world has consumed over the years.
A powerful voice: The characters embody diverse emotional conflicts. I know this sounds familiar. You’re probably reminded of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, but in truth, these two books actually have very contrasting portrayals of society. Whereas Simon embraces a positive perspective, More Happy than Not offers outcomes that are more negative, albeit closer to the “norm”.
Simon’s difficulties are simpler, his environment more accepting. Aaron’s struggles, despite being difficult pills to swallow, are generally more conventional and typical in today’s society. Both voices are strong, but Aaron’s words have darker and stronger demands brought about by scads of excruciating experiences.
I don’t want to be me. I don’t want to second-guess if my friends are going to be okay with me being me, and more importantly, I don’t want to see what happens if they’re not.
I sink against the wall, wondering where the fuck my place is in this fucking universe that fucked me over. Thoughts I shouldn’t be thinking creep up on me. They’re telling me to seek out oblivion where rest and happiness await. I cry harder because it’s not what I want, but once again I am beginning to feel like it is the only solution.
Struggles are highlighted, and issues are emphasized, but these are done without making the book seem like a plot-less advocacy. Suffice it to say that there is an insane story waiting to be told, a story you will hope to the stars would not be true, only because it would be too painful to accept. What else could I say? It broke my heart.
The twist: I wouldn’t dare say that it was unpredictable, it really caught me off-guard. I’m surprised at myself for internally gaping a number of times. Damn it. This is why you should never underestimate a debut.
The ending. It’s sad. It’s hopeful. It’ll sink deep and low. You have been warned.
- Don’t read this at night, unless you want to indulge in not-so-friendly thoughts.
- Again, this is not a happy book, but this is a wonderful, wonderful story.
- Eric should have gotten more page time.
- I couldn’t hate the boy who couldn’t man up. I hate myself for not hating him.
- I would love to have this book in my loved shelf, but I’m too scared to place it there, because every time I see that cover (that creepy smiley which btw made me look at smileys differently), I am reminded of how emotionally draining this book was.
- I love Thomas. period.
This book is a lie. I hate it. I LOVE it. I want to forget it, but it’s too damn unforgettable. I know comparing is the last thing I should be doing, but this book makes The Fault in Our Stars, and All the Bright Places, and every other freaking tearjerker that ever existed, look like a joke. I want to cry.
The verdict? Well, if it isn’t obvious enough, I recommend you to read this book by all means. No, scratch that. I demand you to read this book. Like right now. Please?
Favorite Quotes from More Happy Than Not
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’ve become this happiness scavenger who picks away at the ugliness of the world, because if there’s happiness tucked away in my tragedies, I’ll find it no matter what.
This world is full of ugliness like drugs and hate and girlfriends who don’t love you.
“You didn’t have to take my side.’
I kind of, sort of, definitely always will.”
But I need him as badly as I should be pushing him away. It’s too weird a mix of ugly and hopeful.