Title: More Happy Than Not
Author: Adam Silvera
Publisher: Soho Teen
Release Date: June 2nd 2015
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.
Why does happiness have to be so hard?
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
My Thoughts On…
It’s been months since his father’s suicide and his own attempt and Aaron is finally moving forwards again. The grief is still there but he can look past it to his future with his girlfriend, and his summer with his friends. Then Aaron meets Thomas. Thomas is not like Aaron or any of the friends he has. He lives in a different block and chases after a future that seems constantly out of his grasp; but there’s something about Thomas draws Aaron in, and in a world without his father maybe Thomas is someone Aaron needs in his life.
When Aaron’s girlfriend Genevieve goes away to art camp for three weeks the relationship between Aaron and Thomas changes, and Aaron starts to feel things he knows he shouldn’t. Being gay where he lives feels more like a death sentence than a revelation. Aaron knows he will lose his friends and he will be beaten to within an inch of his life if it’s revealed, but he can’t not feel the way he does when he’s around Thomas.
It gets to the point where Aaron considers going to the Leteo Institute to have the memories that make him gay repressed, so he can be a normal teenager again and not have to look over his shoulder every time he stands too close to another boy.
There is a lot for Aaron to come to terms with in this book; reconciling his growing feelings for Thomas with what he feels for Genevieve, as well as working through his feelings over his father’s suicide. Thomas is changing Aaron slowly, making him happier, but Aaron still can’t be himself and when Genevieve returns from art camp it seems like Aaron’s life falls apart again in the worst possible way.
More Happy Than Not is not a happy, instead it’s a real one. It’s incredibly written and moving though unpredictable in places. Aaron and his friends are teenagers and the author doesn’t shy away from that fact; they swear, smoke, fight, have sex. This is a book that faces uncomfortable topics head first, it made parts of this story hard to read at the times but the whole book is unforgettable and I’m glad I finally got around to reading it.
Aaron knows there are certain things expected of him; not so much in terms of his future but in terms of who he is. His mother expects him to be happy and alive, his friends expect him to fight alongside them and to be straight, even Aaron expects things from himself. Thomas is the only one who doesn’t expect Aaron to be someone other than who he is but Aaron cannot be himself. He is still grieving his father’s death and struggling with his sexuality in a place where he knows being gay could be a death sentence for him.
It never seems like Aaron sees a future for himself, not the same way Thomas does. Despite not having one path but wanting to try them all Thomas goes after what he wants, whereas Aaron is content to stay as he is. Aaron’s life has changed a lot; his best friend is drawing away from him bit by bit, one of their crew undertook the Leteo Institute’s mind-altering treatment and left the block, and his mother seems lost in the aftermath of what happened to his father. Sometimes it seems Genevieve is the only one Aaron can rely on.
There are two relationships in this book that define Aaron, and those are his relationship with Thomas and his relationship with Genevieve. Thomas is the one whom Aaron can fully be himself around. He doesn’t fear his feelings and can reveal things about himself to Thomas he never could to anyone else. Aaron truly seems happy when he’s with Thomas, he isn’t faking happiness like he seems to with everyone else. However the closer Aaron becomes to Thomas the more his feelings for him grow.
Genevieve has been there for Aaron through all the things that went down with his dad and himself. She held him while he cried and stood by his side through more than Aaron can really remember. He loves her in his own way but it’s not enough, not for him and not for her either, and the more time Aaron spends with Thomas the more he seems to realise a relationship with Genevieve is not what he wants.
More Happy Than Not was a story all about Aaron and his journey. It was interesting seeing his past; what led him to became the person we meet in the beginning of the book, as well as what changed in him to make him become the person he is at the end. The character development was beyond amazing; Aaron’s journey is a heartbreaking one, and not happy, but it’s an important one.
Before picking up More Happy Than Not I’d heard plenty about Adam Silvera’s books. Everyone who’s read one seemed to love it so my expectations for More Happy Than Not were sky high. I thought this was an incredibly moving book, hard to read at times, but I can certainly see why everyone loves Adam Silvera’s works.
What did you think of More Happy Than Not? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.