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Some Kind of Happiness

by Claire Legrand

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1867113,398 (4.35)1
Finley Hart is sent to her grandparents' house for the summer, but her anxiety and overwhelmingly sad days continue until she escapes into her writings which soon turn mysteriously real and she realizes she must save this magical world in order to save herself.
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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
Some Kind of Happiness is a rare, exquisite artwork. The story follows 11-year old Finley through an extraordinary summer. Her parents are having troubles and so they send her to spend the whole season with her father's estranged family while they "try to work things out". Finely finds herself at Hart House – a mansion near the woods – with not only grandparents but aunts, uncles, and cousins she's meeting for the first time. All of this is made more difficult because Finley has her monsters, her blue days, her sadness eating away at her. But she is silent. Finley writes through her aches by creating the Everwood. As she falls in love with her family and befriends the boys next door, she begins to share the Everwood with them as they experience the real-life Everwood behind the Hart House. However, things are not as they seem with her family and Finley discovers that she isn't the only one with monsters.

Some Kind of Happiness is riveting, evocative, and so, so real. The narrative alternates between Finley's Everwood writings and a third-person perspective creating this beautiful, entrancing story which is fantastic and utterly realistic simultaneously. Finley's ability to express the blackness of depression and anxiety – the guilt and sadness and loneliness – in a way that will resonate with those who have experienced it in their own lives and speak volumes to those lucky enough to not know those feelings first hand. Yes, this is a book with adventure and young crushes and a queen in her magic forest, but it is also a story of families, of monsters, of weakness, and of forgiveness. This is a book that absolutely everyone should read; those who don't find themselves in the characters will likely find a deeper understanding of someone else in their lives. Highly, highly recommended.
( )
  MagpieBricolage | Jul 17, 2021 |
I liked this book though I had concerns about the story from a developmental attachment point of view. I was so disappointed in the lack of adult attachment, which is so vital to healthy child and adolescent development. Because of this lack, I couldn't enjoy the character development or the storyline. ( )
  ColourfulThreads | Feb 18, 2021 |
This book was pretty damn good. It was originally suggested from a list of books dealing with mental illness. (Depression, for this one.) I don’t know if this book does much to address that but it does an excellent job of storytelling otherwise. The writing is the real star of the show here.

It reminded me of We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, which I liked very much, with a little Bridge to Terabithia thrown in. I like the idea of there being some kind of family secret and only the kids can uncover it because they lack the prejudices or social stigmas of adults. They’re smart enough to ignore the “don’t associate with those people” rule. I love those books where the kids are heroes and the adults are the screw-ups.

The main character has this world she escapes to because she has depression and anxiety. But when she goes to her grandparents, and interacts with her cousins for the first time, they all get into the world, and suddenly they have a reason to play together. But this doesn’t help the broken-ness, the blue days, the panic attacks. She’s got to deal with them while fending off Grandma’s desire to keep up appearances, developing a crush on the neighbor boy, and idolizing the cool older cousin.

It may not help with your depression or give you much insight into it–the mental illness isn’t really part of the plot, it’s more a tacked on part of the character–but that doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy this. ( )
  theWallflower | May 18, 2020 |
Can I give this book 10 stars? This makes me want to go back and change my review system so that there's something higher than every other book that I've rated as a 5 this year, because that's how much this story affected me. Some Kind of Happiness was one of the toughest books I've read this year. Although the story was absolutely breathtaking, I kept having to put it down and take a breather. It's not easy to read about yourself in a book. To find that the author understands what you're going through so intimately that you feel like your insides are being exposed to the world. I felt for Finley, I loved Finley, because I was Finley, and that made me feel raw.

I know that you're probably all tired of hearing my spiel on how amazing the world of Middle Grade books can be. It's something that I say a lot, but the truth of the matter is that it hasn't gotten any less accurate as a statement. Claire Legrand could have chosen to write an adult book about depression and anxiety. She could have chosen to write a Young Adult book. Somehow though, they wouldn't have worked as well as Finley's story does. Seeing a 10 year old girl who is dealing with these feelings, who feels like she has to lock them up inside so that no one knows she's broken, just hits home so damn hard. I don't know if I ever felt like Finley when I was 10, or if I just ignored it because it wasn't "normal", or if I just blocked it out of my memory. What I do know is that now, even as an adult, I can see myself as that 10 year old girl. Struggling with the blue days, trying to motivate myself to get up and do the things that you're supposed to do. It's all the more real because she's so young, and not afraid to be honest with the reader.

There's this gorgeous balance here between fantasy and reality. Much like we escape into our books to forget the world, Finley escapes into her writing about the Everwood. These excerpts from Finley's writing, the moments when she would stop talking about herself and start talking about the "orphan queen" just stuck with me. To deal with the emotions, to deal with the pain, she poured all of that into her alter ego. Into her fiction. I read a lot of Fantasy to this day, for that very reason. To hide in another world. To find myself in someone else for a while so that I can stop being me. Claire Legrand's character was so rich, so honest, so real, that she had my whole heart this entire novel. She ripped it to shreds, and pasted it back together. I sobbed, I sniffled, and I kept reading because sometimes you need that.

I guess this isn't really a review anymore at this point. It's more me letting you know that this book has become deeply personal to me. It's well-written, yes. Claire Legrand has a way with words that is hard to explain. It's also full of all kinds of people who are real people. Flawed, liars, secret-keepers, with pasted on smiles to make other people feel comfortable. Structurally this book is fairly perfect, but that's not what I was focusing on. It was the emotion poured into this book. It was the characters who I understood on such a deep level that it was like I was right there with them. It was the moments of lighthearted childhood, mixed in with the blue days and the sadness. It's like this book was written just for me.

It'll be a long time before I'm able to read this again, but that's okay. I think it's burned into my memory and it's not going anywhere. Finley is a part of me, and I'm a part of her, and I wouldn't have it any other way. ( )
  roses7184 | Feb 5, 2019 |
What a wonderful, memorable story about a young girl, real life issues, family, forbidden friends, secrets revealed and new beginnings! Fast paced and heart warming! ( )
  mpettit7974 | Dec 21, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
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Finley Hart is sent to her grandparents' house for the summer, but her anxiety and overwhelmingly sad days continue until she escapes into her writings which soon turn mysteriously real and she realizes she must save this magical world in order to save herself.

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