05/29/15

Book Review: More Happy Than Not

20522640Novel: More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera | Goodreads
Release Date: June 2nd, 2015
Publisher: Soho Teen
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher via BookPeople Teen Press Corps

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.

Adam Silvera’s extraordinary debut novel offers a unique confrontation of race, class and sexuality during one charged near-future summer in the Bronx.

 

It’s impossible not to fall in love with More Happy Than Not.

Seriously.

More Happy Than Not is a brutally honest story of a young man confronting who he is, falling in love, and learning what it means to be human, all with the hilarious and poignant hand of Adam Silvera.

I don’t know how to perfectly explain my emotions surrounding this book, because I hold that much love for it. (So, I found a gif.)

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This book, in one word, is beautiful. It takes the pain of losing a parent, the feeling of being love, and the difficulty of coming to terms with your sexuality, and weaves them all together. Aaron, the main character, is one of those characters who I connected with immediately, despite our incredibly different lives. I felt his pain, his happiness, his love, and his fear. I just got him. And I love when that happens in a book.

The story mainly focuses on the growing friendship between Aaron and Thomas, a boy he meets in the beginning of the book. They quickly grow close, and Aaron begins to feel more-than-friends feelings towards Thomas, causing him to question his sexuality. Silvera handles this questioning in by far the best way I’ve seen: he lets Aaron struggle. It’s not necessarily the loving another guy part that trips Aaron up, it’s what it will mean for him, his family, and his friends. Being gay in his neighborhood is dangerous, and Aaron fears for his life. He fears the possibility of being an outcast among his childhood friends, and the possibility that his mom and brother will reject him. He fears losing his girlfriend, Genevieve, whose friendship and love he treasures.

And because he doesn’t want to cause all of this pain, Aaron turns to the Leteo Institute, hoping they can erase his memories of Thomas and turn him straight again. The most important part of the book, in my opinion, is whenever Aaron is making his decision as to whether or not he’s going to go through with the procedure. His mom doesn’t want him to, but Aaron believes that it’s the only answer for him. His inner battle between the person he is and the person he wants to be broke my heart: I just wanted him to be happy and to be loved.

The Leteo Institute stands for the idea of people believing we need to forget people in order to be happy in our lives (I believe – I’m obviously not sure what Silvera intended). It’s a powerful symbol, especially in Aaron’s story. For Aaron it’s a way out, but for other people, it’s a way of moving on. The concept of Leteo isn’t entirely far-fetched, which is possibly what made it so real in my head, and also a bit frightening. How would people use a technology like that? How would it change society? More Happy Than Not confronts those questions through Aaron, and changed the way I thought about the phrase “forgive and forget”.

More Happy Than Not is a must-read for everyone. It is on my favorite reads of all time list, and is definitely one of the best books I’ve read this year. Silvera writes with a masterful, yet relatable style that I connected to immediately, and Aaron is a character I’ll never forget. Go out and get this book. Buy it for a friend. Buy it for a family member. Buy it for a random person on the street. It’s that good, and that important. 

  • Aneeqah @ My Not So Real Life

    Willaaaa you’re making me want to run out and buy this book ASAP! Hopefully, though, some random person on the street will hand it to me. 😉

    I love how poignant this book sounds! This whole internal struggle that Aaron is going through seems extremely touching, and I love how touched you seem by it. There are just some characters that really move you deeply, and it seems to me that Aaron was one of those characters for you.

    Silvera seems to be a really great writer!! The symbology of the Leto Institute that you mentions is super intriguing and seems to be filled with a lot of real world applications. I think that just makes things more realistic, which is always a plus. 😀

    Also, that gif is pretty awesom, not gonna lie. Maybe even as awesome as your deer one that you love so much. (but maybe not).

    Gorgeous review, Willa!! Seems like I’ll have to pick this one up soon. <33

    • MY DEER REACTION PIC <3 You know me too well.

      And yes, Aaron was totally that character for me. Moving and relatable all rolled into one!

      GO GET THIS BOOK ANEEQAH. RIGHT. NOW. FIND IT. I'LL EVEN MAIL YOU MINE. JUST READ IT.

  • Jen

    UUUUGGHH I NEED THIS BOOK. I looved your review. I’ve already heard amazing things about this book, but your review just SOLD me. This sounds like a really raw yet honest, and powerful book. I’m so excited to connect with Aaron the way you did. <3

    xoxo,
    Jen