More Happy Than Not. First, he gives readers Bronx native Aaron Soto who is crazy about his girlfriend Genevieve, enjoys hanging out with his childhood friends in the neighborhood, has a new pal named Thomas who he likes talking about movies, hopes and dreams with and, finally, he just might be coping with his father's recent suicide. For chapter after chapter in fact, Aaron's life plays out as typical, albeit a bit more emotional, teenage angst. But then, the wheels start to go off his life a bit and he starts to like Thomas more and more which makes him wonder if he might not be as crazy about Genevieve as he thinks he is.
Yep, Aaron might be gay but—and here's the big twist—that is not entirely what this book is all about.
This is tough because I don't want to ruin the plot. I don't want you to lost that opportunity for "WHOA" that I had in the middle of the book. So you're just going to have to trust me that there is a hell of a lot more to More Happy Than Not than a coming out story (not that those stories aren't great). One twist I can tell you about (as it's on the back cover) is that Aaron's confusion over his sexuality makes him consider taking the memory-relief procedure offered by the Leteo Institute. That slight bit of sci-fi in the narrative brings all sorts of philosophical questions into the story as Aaron wrestles with its risks and possibilities. It's really the only hint that the book is taking place in the future and thus makes this an extremely relateable title, whether you like science fiction or not.
Otherwise, there is a lot about growing up in the same neighborhood, about how joking around with your buddies might not be the same as a teenager as it was when you were a kid. It's about grinding poverty and making good and bad choices (as in drugs and crime) and about wanting something more than what you have but not even really knowing what that more can be. And, More Happy Than Not is about a kid who thought he was figuring everything out and then suddenly realizes that he might not know anything at all. These are all questions that will be familiar to teen readers because we all have them. Aaron just has a tantalizing way of solving them, by forgetting.
What would you do if life got too complicated? If the question intrigues you then read More Happy Than Not. It's a thought provoking, funny, smart read with a great (diverse!) cast that will leave you thinking long after the last page is turned.