Details & Summary
“Sometimes pain is so unmanageable that the idea of spending another day with it seems impossible. Other times pain acts as a compass to help you get through the messier tunnels of growing up. But the pain can only help you find happiness if you can remember it.”
Where to start? I honestly don’t know. A lot of thoughts and emotions have come from reading this book, but it’s hard to put them into words. I guess I’ll start by saying that I thought this book couldn’t live up to History is All You Left Me, which I read first and is one of my all-time favourites, but it did. It most definitely did. More Happy Than Not is a dark, sad, and above all thought-provoking book that deals with suicide, homophobia, and depression but still manages to close on a semi-hopeful note.
More Happy Than Not is a contemporary book, but there are sci-fi elements to the story, mainly the Leteo Institute. The Leteo Institute takes away or rather “suppresses” memories or things you’d like to forget, such as being responsible for you twin brother’s death (which happened to one of Aaron’s friends).
The story starts out by detailing Aaron Soto’s day-to-day life. Aaron lives in the Bronx with his Mum and his brother Eric, his girlfriend Genevieve, and his friends. He’s struggling with depression after his father’s suicide. Aaron has recently tried to commit suicide himself.
The story kicks off when he meets Thomas, an eccentric and sweet boy who lives in his neighbourhood. The two of them hit it off and they grow closer as the story enfolds. Silvera did a fantastic job at pacing their relationship. It didn’t feel rushed and definitely wasn’t a case of “insta-love”. Aaron’s newfound feelings for Thomas came over time after having spent much of his free time with him. But please don’t think this is a cute romance story because it’s everything but that.
“From the shapes cast by the green paper lantern, you would never know that there were two boys sitting closely to one another trying to find themselves. You would only see shadows hugging, indiscriminate.”
Not everyone’s happy about Aaron’s close relationship with Thomas. His “friends” make it very clear they will not accept Aaron being gay in one of the most heartbreaking scenes I’ve ever read. They almost beat Aaron to death and I won’t spoil what happens next, but this assault “triggers” something inside Aaron. Something that makes him turn to the Leteo Institute for help.
He tries to erase a part of who he is, which leads to a horrible consequence or “side-effect”. The ending to this book is definitely sad, but also thought-provoking because, ultimately, it’s a way to show us that you can’t change who you are. It might seem hard and impossible. It might also seem like you’ll never find true happiness, but maybe you don’t have to. Maybe you can start by being more happy than not.
“I’ve become this happiness scavenger who picks away at the ugliness of the world, because if there’s happiness tucked away in my tragedies, I’ll find it no matter what. If the blind can find joy in music, and the deaf can discover it with colors, I will do my best to always find the sun in the darkness because my life isn’t one sad ending—it’s a series of endless happy beginnings.”
More Happy Than Not is another brilliant and must-read book by Adam Silvera that should be required reading.