Review: More Happy Than Not

Review of More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera.

I just finished More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera. I read the first 40 pages last night in bed and finished the book this morning. I was only able to put it down long enough to throw the laundry into the dryer!

From the publisher:

In his twisty, gritty, profoundly moving New York Times bestselling-debut—also called “mandatory reading” and selected as an Editors’ Choice 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 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.

This book is incredible. It covers issues of identity, race, family, trauma and coming-of-age in a way that is both uplifting and heartbreaking. It’s full of suspense with several twists. All of the characters (Me-Crazy, Skinny-Dave, Baby Freddy, etc.) feel distinct and real. The world they inhabit is foreign to me but feels very real as well.

It’s hard to believe this was Silvera’s debut. The narrative voice is strong and the story is tightly written. I’m not surprised it was a bestseller back in 2015. More Happy Than Not is the kind of book that makes me frustrated that I could never write something this good.

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