Title: More Happy Than Not
Author: Adam Silvera
Series: Stand alone.
Publisher: Soho Teen
Release Date: June 2, 2015
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Source: E-Galley from the publisher
The publisher provided an e-galley of this book in exchange for an honest review.
This book astounded me. The writing was gorgeous, the story was phenomenal, and the message delivered was much needed. YA needs more books like this. Here is your synopsis from Amazon:
The Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-relief procedure seems too good to be true to Aaron Soto — miracle cure-alls don’t tend to pop up in the Bronx projects. But Aaron can’t forget how he’s grown up poor or how his friends aren’t always there for him. Like after his father committed suicide in their one bedroom apartment. Aaron has the support of his patient girlfriend, if not necessarily his distant brother and overworked mother, but it’s not enough.
Then Thomas shows up. He has a sweet movie-watching setup on his roof, and he doesn’t mind Aaron’s obsession with a popular fantasy series. There are nicknames, inside jokes. Most importantly, Thomas doesn’t mind talking about Aaron’s past. But Aaron’s newfound happiness isn’t welcome on his block. Since he’s can’t stay away from Thomas or suddenly stop being gay, Aaron must turn to Leteo to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he is.
1. I hear a lot of people complain about “mature language” in YA books.
This book has a lot of rated R language, which I love, in case you were wondering. However, in the case of this book, the story wouldn’t make sense without the language. When you see the neighborhood where Aaron grew up, the friends he grew up with, and how he was raised, it only makes sense that the younger characters in this book would have potty mouths. Which, coincidentally, is a quality we share. I have a horrible potty mouth. I have to HEAVILY edit myself when I’m at work. (Sorry about that small tangent). Anyway, without the mature words, Aaron wouldn’t have felt like someone real to me. I am aware he is a fictional character, but I like being able to relate to characters. They can’t lie to themselves and pretend to be something they aren’t. Well…to an extent.
2. This book dealt with a lot of heavy issues including dealing with homosexuality in a community that actually hates that lifestyle, and suicide.
Aaron’s dad is continuously referred to as a “manly man” throughout the book. His dad also committed suicide, which is a huge recurring theme in the book. Aaron’s dad haunts him constantly. He is always being reminded of his father, and we really only get good memories of the man. He seemed to be a loving father, and Aaron blames himself for his suicide. Throughout the story, Aaron strives to be a man that his father would be proud of while constantly feeling lost. Aaron is one of the most self actualized characters I have ever seen in any book, let alone a YA book. He impresses me with how self aware he is and how strong he is in accepting the HUGE changes and discoveries that happen to him in this story. He is truly a hero. I say this based on everything he’s been through and everything he will continue to go through. (I loved Aaron so much, can you tell?)
3. I haven’t read a story this original in awhile.
I only recently got into contemporary and I was honestly scared to read this book. This was a pleasant surprise not only because of its subject matter, but because of the stellar writing. This was engrossing and even though I am not a member of the gay community, I identified with Aaron so much. I think at one point, I even made a note that Aaron is more self-actualized than I’ll ever be. Aaron attempts to commit suicide and is saved. Throughout the book, he keeps referring to this as a cry for help. Most people who attempt suicide (that I know, anyway. I’m not trying to make sweeping generalizations) don’t have the self-awareness to admit that they wanted help.
4. Adam Silvera’s writing is beautiful, and with a beautiful message.
Silvera wrote this book to tell everyone, not just teens, that it’s okay to be unequivocally and unapologetically who you are. Accept no substitutes or changes. Aaron is gay. You might be gay or straight or trans or you could even be a part of a group that does not identify with either gender. Either way, More Happy Than Not has a message for you and it is: Just. Be. You. Aaron’s friends try to shame him for who he is. The only person who truly supports him is his mother. There is a particularly heartbreaking montage of memories in the book (don’t worry, I won’t spoil anything) where we hear Aaron’s father tell him to “be a man” and to “stop being a girl.” It’s such a glaring view into today’s society and its obsession with what is truly masculine or feminine. I don’t normally get tears in my eyes when reading books, but this one absolutely did it. Don’t tell someone to man up when they’re crying – that denotes that crying is something weak, something ONLY females do. Don’t tell someone to stop being a girl when they’re in a sensitive state – that denotes that being sensitive and feeling feelings is something only women do and that it is also a sign of weakness. Silvera delivers this expertly and I really need this book to be out immediately. I have a few students who could benefit from his message.
OVERALL: 5 STARS!!! I adored this book. I know I didn’t really go over the story too much and that’s because I want you to read the book. I don’t want to spoil anything, so if I delve too much into the story, I’ll spoil it. This was a great look at modern society. How we treat gender equality, human rights, and our ability to feel. Silvera will make you feel a lot of things. The ending. Sweet baby jesus, the ending. It tore my heart out but also made me happy at the same time? You’ll know what I mean when you read it. So, if you’re ready for feels (trust me. You are) click the link below to pre-order this fantastic book. It releases on June 2nd. Perfect start to your summer!