More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
Publication Date: April 26th 2016 by Soho Teen (Paperback)
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, GLBT
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In the months after his father’s suicide, it’s been tough for sixteen-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?
Going in to this book I knew it would be emotional. However, despite knowing that I didn’t really believe it and I thought I’d be laughing and smiling a lot more. How wrong was I? More Happy Than Not was very emotional and far from happy. This book kept throwing one punch after the other and by the end I was emotionally exhausted. So it’s safe to say that I loved it.
This book covers a lot of issues and the circumstances in which these issues were explored in made for a very raw and realistic journey. Our characters are all flawed and that brings about a complexity in not just their personalities but also in their relationships with one another. They all try to do the best for each other and they are good people but even the best make mistakes and what was important was that they owned up to them and learnt from them.
Identity is at the heart of the book. Living in the Bronx, Aaron is struggling to come to terms with his father’s suicide, his family’s financial struggles and his own suicidal thoughts. However, in spite of these struggles, Aaron believe that his life is slowly coming together. He has a good group of friends and a loving girlfriend who has supported him through those darker times. He lives with his mother and brother and overall things seem to be taking a positive turn for him. Here enters Thomas, and it’s his introduction that serves as a catalyst to the chain of events that turns Aaron’s world upside down and the things Aaron once seemed so sure about aren’t as clear to him anymore. Thomas’ attitude towards life makes Aaron question his own identity and sparks the journey in learning to embrace that.
Memory is also an important theme in this book. In this society, people can undertake a procedure that wipe away or repress memories you would rather forget. With this procedure, we explore whether or not forgetting crucial parts of your life and identity really does make you happy or if it simply creates a false happiness. Can you really bury your identity in favour of the lies we tell ourselves to be true?
I want to talk the about the ending. Personally I loved it. In life you cannot wake up one morning to find that everything has been tied up in a nice little bow and all your problems have magically disappeared. That’s the stuff for fairy tales and I love the fact that this book doesn’t follow that ending. Aaron goes through a lot in this book and he still has a long way to go by the end of it. The end basically highlighted just how much Aaron endured and also drives home the fact that while we all have our set backs, there will always be hope for better things to come. The ending is realistic and raw and had me in tears.
Basically if you haven’t read this book yet I urge you to do so because it is emotional and raw and real. This is one of the best contemporaries I have ever read and you really have to experience it in order to truly appreciate this book.