In this poignant, realistic, contemporary YA by a state master list star, perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen and Gayle Forman, a young songwriter builds a substitute family with her friends in place of the broken family she grew up with.
Minerva has been raised by her single mother after her father left them both. On her 17th birthday, she is shocked to discover that he has been trying to keep in touch, but her mother has been sabotaging his attempts.
Furious at her mom, she begins to investigate her dad, a famous marine biologist, only to discover that he has a new family, including a beloved, and perfect, stepdaughter--a girl Minerva already knows and despises.
As she makes her way, trying to build her performing and songwriting career, her jealousy takes over and threatens to derail her life completely.
It is only through the efforts of her best friend, Fin, and the introduction of Hayes, a new young man in her life, that she is able to see clearly who she is and who makes up her family.
Kindle Edition, 256 pages
Published October 28th 2014 by EgmontUSA
Three Stars: A nice, light contemporary that ends too soon, and it fails to adequately explore the main conflict.
Minerva has been looking forward to her birthday for months. Today is the day when she will finally get the ukulele she has been coveting. Unfortunately, Minerva's mother doesn't deliver, instead Minerva receives a hideous blue sweater. Her day isn't off to a good start. As she dashes out the door to school, she collides with a delivery man, who has an envelope addressed to Minerva and her mother. The return address bears the initials K.C. and an address in Chicago. Covertly, Minerva stuffs the envelope in her backpack and flies out the door. At school, she opens the package and finds a letter and a gift from her father, whom she hasn't seen or contacted since she was a small girl. He is now living here in Chicago, and he wants to see her. Will Minerva have the courage to find her father, or are things better left alone?
What I Liked:
- Get Happy is a Young Adult contemporary that lands on the lighter side. It does explore some familiar familial issues, abandonment by a parent, but it never delves too far into the dramatic side. For the most part, it is quick, upbeat, and it has a nice cast of characters. There is also something for the music lover. This book is packed with song lyrics that tie in neatly with the story. For those of you who like your contemps on the light side with just a hint of romance, this is one you can grab and read in a sitting.
- What makes this book work are the fun characters. Minerva and her best friend, Fin, and their new found friend, Hayes, drive the plot. Minerva at seventeen is determined to get a ukulele and be a musician. Her head is always buzzing with song lyrics, and she for the most part, is funny and upbeat. Fin, her best friend, is adorable, quirky and he always makes you laugh. Hayes is quieter, but just as interesting. He has a little list with all kinds of fun things he has to complete by his birthday. I loved his shyness and I especially enjoyed learning about his fears over his list. Together, the three land jobs working for Get Happy, a company that puts on parties for kids. I loved seeing the trio come together, and I loved the friendship. Their interactions totally made the book.
- At the heart of the story is Minerva's struggle with being abandoned by her father. Once she receives an envelope for her birthday, she can't help but open the door and start to look for him. Her emotions and feelings are all over the place, and it is easy to understand her conflicted feelings, especially when she learns the truth. Even though I was a bit disappointed in how this story line concluded, I did appreciate that it didn't get too dramatic and that it seemed to end in a better place.
- The book also explores the relationship Minerva has with her mother. As the book progresses, it is apparent that her mother hasn't always been completely honest. I liked that the relationship was complicated, and there were moments of anger and disappointment and lots of tears. It felt realistic. I liked that the two were willing to work their issues, and I had hope for them for the future.
- There is a hint of romance, and even though I wished that there had been a bit more of the romance, I liked watching it build quietly behind the scenes, and then it blossoms right at the end with a lovely, sweet moment. It was nice.
- The book ends rather abruptly, and I did have a few issues with the way it played out. However, it does end without a cliffhanger, and it finishes in a good spot.
And The Not So Much:
- My biggest problem with this book was that in the beginning pages, the reader is exposed to the main conflict: Minerva's abandonment by her father. The story seems to build and build to the moment when Minerva will meet her father, and then when the moment comes, it happens in the final ten percent of the book. I was extremely disappointed in the way the conflict was resolved, you get this quick run down, and then it ends. I wanted far more depth and detail, I couldn't believe that after all the buildup that the finale was such a fizzle.
- I was also disappointed in that the reader never really has a solid understanding of why Minerva's mother acted the way she did. Yes, you get bits and pieces, but I still wanted more. Was the relationship really just a fling? Why did her dad never seek to see her? He certainly had rights. I wanted more than small shouting match through the door. Why wasn't the therapy session included?
- Minerva meets a girl named Cassie. Minerva becomes increasingly jealous of Cassie because she is pretty and perfect and she seems to have it all. Cassie is nothing but nice to Minerva, but Minerva's behavior in return is childish and petty. Then there is a reveal regarding Cassie, and then nothing happens. I wanted to see how Minerva and Cassie fared after that moment.
- The book includes lots of song lyrics that Minerva writes as she deals with certain things. I liked the song lyrics, but then sometimes they got to be a bit much. For instance, I didn't need to have the chorus repeated over and over, once is enough. There is a whole section of songs at the end that are nice, but I felt the author should have spent more time focusing on the depth and detail of the main conflict instead of the cutesy songs.
Get Happy is a book that I am conflicted over. I wavered with my rating, but went with the higher rating of a three because I liked the characters, the story and that it was on the light side. This book had a lot of potential, but it ended up faltering mostly because it ends way too abruptly. There was much more story to tell, and I would have loved to see the family work together on their relationship, and for the romance to have more time in the spotlight. I think the author focused too much on song lyrics and missed the mark as far as the overall story. Still, it was a quick, light read, and I did like it. I just wish that it had been longer.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own, and I was not compensated for this review.