More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
Review by Lauren
source: copy from library; all opinions are my own
Official Summary: In the months after his father's suicide, it's been tough for 16-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?
Review: This book is just...woah! Seriously, read it now. It's not something you want people to talk to you about too much until after you've read it because there is so much about Aaron and the world around him that is not known to readers at first. He's just tried to commit suicide after his own father does the same, and he's not sure there is true happiness in the world. He wants to find it though. He spends time with his girlfriend, Genevieve, and he plays games with the same group of guys he's grown up with. It's not until he meets Thomas that he starts to feel okay again.
I think Silvera did a fantastic job describing the world that Aaron lives in. You feel like you're in the Bronx, playing manhunt with Aaron and these guys who are his sort-of-friends, including his sort-of best friend, Brendan. Aaron meets Thomas and finally knows what a true friend is like. They can hang out and just feel free, like any normal teenager. Aaron knows his feelings toward aren't "normal." He finds himself not really missing Genevieve when she's away at camp because he has Thomas, who seems to make him happier than his girlfriend does.
In the version of the world that Aaron lives in, there is a place called the Leteo Institute that can do brain surgery to help people forget horrifying or damaging events in their life. Aaron thinks it's all made up until he hears about a former friend having the surgery to forget about his twin brother, whose death was essentially his fault. Knowing this and dealing with his feelings about Thomas, Aaron desperately wants the procedure. He doesn't want to lose Genevieve and he definitely doesn't want to deal with whatever anger he might get from his sort-of friends. This aspect of More Happy Than Not is a huge part of the book, but it really helps make this story about discovering one's sexuality that more unique and poignant.
You need to read this book. You need to meet Aaron. Then let's discuss.