There were some really beautiful things about More Happy than Not, and then there were some things I didn’t like so much about it. I feel like my review will be a bit controversial, so I do want to clarify that I love the ideas this book brought about and the life lessons, but I wasn’t huge on the execution. I can’t do this review without some spoilers, so be warned. There are spoilers in this review, but it won’t ruin the book for you. (I don’t think).
This is a fantasy novel, so there are some elements of a futuristic world, or at least a medical procedure that doesn’t exist (that I know of). But everything else is really rooted in reality for the most part.
The book follows Aaron post his grieving process over his loss of his father and his near loss of himself. His father killed himself, and then Aaron tried to kill himself by carving a smile into his arm. The reader follows Aaron post his grief and as he was figuring things out and trying to move past it. Aaron then discovers he is gay, pretty abruptly. One day, he’s having sex with his girlfriend, Genevieve, and then she leaves for three weeks. When she come back, he’s got a crush on a boy, and he has no real internal struggle against it. This is explained later.
Aaron seems to be a little angst-y, in my opinion, but he has reason to be. When he finds out that he is gay, and the guy he has a crush on is straight, he wants to undergo the surgery that wipes his memory. He feels rejected, and crushed. However, I hate how he goes about it… he uses the fact that he tried to kill himself to get his way. I have to admit, what he is going through overall is really too much for any teenager to have to experience. His dad is the worst human on the planet (you’ll understand if you read), and he has some pretty scummy friends as well.
The twist mid-book builds and explains story flaws in the first part of the book. More Happy than Not is really, really sad. It has some important lessons in it. But, I think it could have been executed just as beautifully without the memory wipe surgery being part of the story line. I think if it was just the normal world, and it was told in a chronological order without the fantasy element, without the twist, it would have been more beautiful and powerful.
I truly felt that the ending was just depressing, and that the procedure brought in so much more hurt and pain than it did anything else, and maybe that’s the point of the book. A big lesson in this novel is that memories make you who you are, happy memories or not. I fear that this novel might scare kids to be afraid to tell the truth about themselves if they are gay. Aaron faces a lot of adversity because of his sexuality, and although I hope that isn’t the case for all kids, it may be. Aaron comes out, and so many bad things happen afterwards that he wants to kill himself. That’s very disheartening to me, and I would think for many readers as well.
More Happy than Not was a good book, it teaches valuable lessons, and it exposes some of the hate in the world that exists that is meaningless and horrible. I loved the lessons it taught, I loved how the romance was written, I liked the characters. It’s definitely worth the read. I just didn’t quite like the execution or the ending. I thought the story was written so well, it could stand without the memory procedure part of it. I also had a hard time figuring out what the lesson was because it seemed to say that memories make you who you are, but at the same time, you become who you are without memories. Read it and let me know what you think!