More Happy Than Not
by Adam Silvera
Genre: Contemporary/ LGBTQ/Science-Fiction
Bang Bang Rating:
“The boy with no direction taught me something unforgettable; happiness comes again if you let it.”
Aaron has a girlfriend who loves him but his friends aren’t always supportive. His mother loves him unconditionally but his father recently committed suicide. His older brother ignores him but he’s found a new best friend. His friend, Kyle, feels responsible for the death of his twin brother but the Leteo Institute erased Kyle’s memories. Aaron is more happy than not.
- Setting. I have never been to The Bronx and many people reading this book may not have experienced the neighborhood Aaron lives in. Silvera managed to capture the good and the tough part of living in Aaron’s neighborhood. The family block party, the street games, and all the different races and families that live on the same block. There are teens with two parents, just a father or a mother, teens with parents in prison who live with grandparents. This stood out because most parents are non-existent in YA fiction.
- Being Gay in The Bronx. I live in a diverse suburb and the teens in my town have varied attitudes toward homosexuality. I’m a teen librarian and I spend my entire day in our teen room and I overhear conversations. I notice that the black teens are not as openly acceptable than some white teens. I am black and I don’t know how homosexuality is viewed in hispanic communities but I know it’s still very taboo in the black community.
- My point is that More Happy Than Not shows us the not so supportive side of gays even when you grew up together and call yourselves friends.
- Sci-Fi Twist. LGBTQ themed novels are booming and like all genres; it’s important to stand out from the crowd. It’s really easy to get lumped in with the rest of the class.
- More Happy Than Not has a twist with the Leteo Institute-a place where people can get their memories erased. We all have memories we’d like to forget about, a death; a betrayal from a loved one; or unrequited love. Aaron doesn’t want to be gay and he wants the Leteo Institute to make him straight.
- Silvera doesn’t use science fiction as a blending of genres like Grasshopper Jungle. Silvera uses it as a metaphor for dealing. Life is hard and one can’t expect an easy fix. Aaron is suicidal, his love life is in turmoil, he’s poor, and he’s gay and he wants the easy fix but is this a smart choice?
- Teens and adults face obstacles and how we deal with it determines our futures. More Happy Than Not explores this subject effectively.
- Good Lesson for All not Just Teens. The ultimate moral of the story for me was that everyone is dealt a set of circumstances and it doesn’t do well to dwell on our unfortunates but to find a little happiness to live another day. Teens are moody and angsty and angry and I think Aaron’s story will cause them to take a look at their lives to find some happiness somewhere.
- The teens suffer from the Dawson’s Creek Syndrome or the teens-don’t-talk-like-that syndrome but I over looked it.
More Happy Than Not is more about circumstances and outlook than LGBTQ. I think it’s relatable for many people and a book that all teens should read.
I will not be surprised to see More Happy Than Not on top of the Printz honoree list.