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Paperback: 224 pages
Release Date: October 1, 2011
Source of my copy: publisher
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
What Happens When You’re Not So Perfect?
How could so much change so fast?
Let’s see, you could be a plain Jane daughter of two gorgeous famous people; move to a new school; have no real friends; your mom could get sick; and, oh yeah, you could have the most embarrassing secret in the world. Yep, that about does it.
Hannah is an eighth grader trying her hardest to cling to what she knows and loves while her world shatters around her. Her parents are glamorous Hollywood royalty, and sometimes she feels like the ugly duckling in a family of swans. Faced with her mother’s death and her father’s withdrawal into grief, Hannah turns to the one thing she can control: her weight.
Hannah’s self-destructive secret takes over her life, but the new Beverly Hills clique she’s befriended at school only reinforces her desire to be beautiful, and not even the quirky misfit Jasper—the only one who seems to notice or care—can help. It will take a journey unlike any other to remind Hannah of who she really is, and to begin to get that girl back. Reasons to Be Happy is about standing up for all the things you love—including yourself.
When I first saw the cover and read the advanced reader copy synopsis of this book, I thought I was in for a fun, semi-serious, coming of age read about a middle school girl. But this book turned out to be a lot more than that.
I usually stay away from contemporary young adult dealing with tough issues because they are usually a hard read for me and are not my cup of tea. I almost gave up on Reasons to Be Happy when I realized that it was a "tough issues" kind of book. It was hard reading about Hannah's spiral into bulimia and the author did not mince words. Not only that, it was hard to watch Hannah go from a happy girl who kept a "reasons to be happy" list to one who had so much to deal with: mean girls at school, trying to fit in, her body issues, death of a loved one, her dad's alcoholism, among other things. I just wanted to reach inside the book and give her a hug many times while I was reading her story. I am glad that I didn't stop reading, though, because this book was fantastic. As much as it was hard reading the first half of the book, the second half, as Hannah slowly start to find herself again and heal and climbs back out from the deep hole she had found herself in was wonderful. I grew to really care for Hannah throughout the novel and I rooted for her.
I think everyone should read Reasons to Be Happy. For older readers like me, I think many will see a bit of themselves in Hannah when they were in that difficult middle school and high years of their life while younger readers can empathize with Hannah and probably relate to what she went through. Ultimately it is a story about finding yourself and growing up and family, friendship and love. I don't know if it's because I don't read many books like these but this book grabbed me from page one and I couldn't stop reading even the hard, uncomfortable parts and Hannah's story stayed with me days after. Reasons to Be Happy is wonderfully written and extremely readable--I highly recommend it if you're looking for a "tough issues" contemporary read.