After reading so much acclaim about this debut novel with several folks even comparing this to Benjamin Alire Sáenz’ Aristotle and Dante Discover The Secrets of the Universe, I finally decided to give it a go. That comparison alone and all the reviews I’ve been reading just totally did it for me. Of course, I am not going to obsessively compare these two books throughout this review. I’ve enough to say about Silvera’s book that will entice you to experience it yourself.
More Happy Than Not made me feel a lot of things over the course of reading it and a few good hours after. There’s just this plain sadness that’s overpowering the book’s hopeful tone as I ponder upon the main character’s fate.
Aaron Soto is not happy about being gay. He felt responsible for his father’s suicide so he decided to take the same route and thankfully, did not succeed. He doesn’t want to be “different” and be alienated from his friends. He wants to forget about all of these things and he did.
The almost magical Leteo Institute does a procedure that could make you forget things.
“The procedure cannot be faulted for the heart remembering what the mind forgot”
The author’s portrayal of Aaron’s struggles encompasses not only the youth under the low-socio economic class but also the ones in general that seeks acceptance, longs for help and those who find it hard to live life on a day to day basis for whatever reasons.
Suicide is a serious issue that the author tackled here with tact. It’s a cry for help from Aaron (as he mentioned) but I did asked at one point, what about his father? Just how does one cope with that? How do I feel about that? Who’s to blame? Is there someone to blame? Should there be a blaming game for these cases?
“So I did this as a cry for help, I guess, because I didn’t like the bad place I was in.”
Then there’s homophobia. We’ve all heard (rather KNOW) that this DISEASE – sorry (not sorry) y’all bigoted piece of shit who thinks that you’re above anyone that’s not like you – leads people (especially the young ones) into hiding what they are that in some extreme cases, leads to suicide. I despise the hating and I know I am hating the hater so I’m no good to judge but fucking fuck – who the fuck are they to deem themselves having the right to alienate people because they’re different from them?! FUCK!
Okay, so I just rambled a little in there but seriously… homophobia certainly was the catalyst of the twist in the story. It was very easy to guess but with or without the twist – the abject stuff that the protagonist faces was more than enough to render its readers stunned or mad for that matter.
I know I WAS mad. I’m mad because his friends aren’t his real friends. With bigoted people, friendship won’t matter. History will be erased as if it never happened.
I am mad at his parents. Aaron’s dad was an asshole who deserves all kinds of hell for what he did when he was alive and what he did to himself eventually.
I am mad at Aaron’s mom because she signed on with the procedure to escape her responsibility. Sure, she’s got good intention and all but in my opinion, she should’ve known better.
I am mad at Thomas because I feel like he led Aaron on. I do not like his character at all. At first I did because of his somewhat philosophical shit that may have helped Aaron in some ways but somewhere in the middle, he simply became void of anything that is worth liking (at least for me).
I am mad because all of these things led to what Aaron has eventually become.
Ending with a promising and hopeful tone, the author made me ponder many things. Mainly because Aaron’s character totally resonates with me and his fate makes it more painful for me to read the novel’s last page. He’s one of the bravest characters I’ve ever encountered and I’m so glad that at the end of everything he’s been through, he’s finally more happy than not.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Published June 2nd 2015 by Soho Teen
About The Author
Adam was born and raised in the Bronx and is tall for no reason. He was a bookseller before shifting to children’s publishing where he worked at a literary development company, a creative writing website for teens, and as a book reviewer of children’s and young adult novels. He lives in New York City.
More Happy Than Not is his debut novel.
Represented by Brooks Sherman of the Bent Agency.