TTBF Author Repost Guest Review: More Happy than Not by Adam Silvera


Team Midsummer, Jessica & Lyv, are attending the Texas Teen Book Festival again this year in Austin, TX! To prepare and get ourselves amped-up for this event, we are reposting some of our reviews by some of the TTBF 17 authors!

This review was originally posted on October 31, 2016

eveThis review was done by another one of Team Midsummer’s favorite people, Eve.  She has submitted reviews to us before, so we were excited to have her on board for LGBT History Month! Thanks so much, Eve!

 

 

 

In the months after his father’s suicide, it’s been tough for sixteen-year-old Aaron Soto to find happiness again—but he’s still gunning for it. With the support of his girlfriend Genevieve and his overworked mom, he’s slowly remembering what that might feel like. But grief and the smile-shaped scar on his wrist prevent him from forgetting completely. 

When Genevieve leaves for a couple of weeks, Aaron spends all his time hanging out with this new guy, Thomas. Aaron’s crew notices, and they’re not exactly thrilled. But Aaron can’t deny the happiness Thomas brings or how Thomas makes him feel safe from himself, despite the tensions their friendship is stirring with his girlfriend and friends. Since Aaron can’t stay away from Thomas or turn off his newfound feelings for him, he considers turning to the Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is. 

Why does happiness have to be so hard?

I was immediately drawn into narrative of this intriguing novel, although I’ll confess to being a little suspicious of its potential similarity to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, with a sexuality angle rather than the desire to forget a past heartbreaking romantic relationship. But I was impressed by the way the focus wasn’t specifically on any one of the main issues addressed by the story, but rather a cleverly crafted weaving of the elements of grief, mental health, class and social structures, teen relationships, and love developing outside of an expected heteronormative paradigm. For this reason, while the book certainly addresses the complexities and struggle of coming out, I found the whole story to be involving and important – not just the relationship between Aaron and Thomas. It also isn’t a copy of Eternal Sunshine – it has one similar element, the neuroscience of forgetting, but it fans out to be much greater than that.

One thing I will note, because it stood out to me so much while reading that I texted Jess about it at the time, is that Aaron and Thomas say, “No homo” to each other a seemingly inordinate amount of times in the space of two pages. Now, it may be my heterosexual, cisgender privilege showing that I have never had to clarify my sexuality while interacting in an affectionate way with someone of the same sex as me, but I did feel that this phrase was somewhat overused. I’d be interested to know if this is a common experience among young men, because perhaps this phrase is used so frequently and that is part of the culture of hiding homosexual attraction.

Aside from this, the character development seemed very natural and totally solid within a few chapters – I feel like I know Aaron Soto, his friends and family, and have an understanding of his perspective on the world. The outstanding part of this book for me was how bravely and easily it tackled upsetting and painful topics, making it comfortable for the reader to continue (albeit through tears) even when the characters were suffering. Silvera does not shy away from the impact of suicide nor from the violence inherent in some relationships. On top of that, the balance of wit and warmth is spot on, throughout the happy moments and the hard ones.

I don’t want to give away too much about the plot but there are twists, and they’re the delicious ones that you sort of see coming but still have to pause and take a moment to think back on and process them once they do happen. The story will have you feeling all of the emotions and, while it certainly has a central homosexual relationship, I think it actually is a more profound commentary on humanity as a whole.

4.75 Bards

475-bards

Waiting on Wednesday

waiting on wednesday

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  For the month of October, Team Midsummer is celebrating LGBTQ History Month.  So for are WOW posts, all the novels we are desperately waiting to be released that are LGBTQ! This week I’m waiting on:


Release Date: January 17, 2017

OCD-afflicted Griffin has just lost his first love, Theo, in a drowning accident.

In an attempt to hold onto every piece of the past, he forges a friendship with Theo’s last boyfriend, Jackson. When Jackson begins to exhibit signs of guilt, Griffin suspects he’s hiding something, and will stop at nothing to get to the truth about Theo’s death.

But as the grieving pair grows closer, readers will question Griffin’s own version of the truth both in terms of what he’s willing to hide and what true love means.

Bowie & Books

bowiequote

 

We here at A Midsummer Night’s Read wanted to do something to honor the memory of the talented and wonderful David Bowie, so we decided to gather a few of his great songs and apply them to a few good young adult books!

David Bowie was an avid reader and supported efforts to encourage children to read.  So how better to honor him than with words: his and a few good authors.

The first song that really stuck out, “Heroes,” is from the album of the same name released in 1977.

“And we kissed, as though nothing could fall (nothing could fall)
And the shame, was on the other side
Oh we can beat them, for ever and ever
Then we could be Heroes, just for one day”

The book that I paired with this song is
These Broken Stars
by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner. It tells the story of a figurative princess with all the riches in the world and a former war hero that are having to save themselves and their future.  Plus, they fall in love and really do become heroes for each other and their world.

 

The second song I chose has a great message and an unforgettable beat, “Golden Years.”

“Don’t let me hear you say life’s taking you nowhere, angel
Come get up my baby
Run for the shadows, run for the shadows
Run for the shadows in these golden years”


The Start of Me and You
by Emery Lord really reminds me of this song.  The friendship between Paige and her best
friends as well as her blossoming relationship with Max really define what was the “Golden Years” of her life.  They will not let her miss out on those years, and really, don’t we all need people to help us through that?

 

The third song I chose is one of his lesser known songs from Space Oddity, called “Letter to Hermoine.”

“They say your life is going very well
They say you sparkle like a different girl
But something tells me that you hide
When all the world is warm and tired
You cry a little in the dark
Well so do I”

I imagined this song from the point of view of the male characters in Sarah Dessen’s The Moon and More, as they would think upon Emaline and her future without them.  This novel really was about Emaline’s journey and her story, but the guys play a big part in her development as a character, so I found this song about longing and missing her to be fitting.

 

The fourth song I chose, I chose mostly in honor of Prince Magnus from the Falling Kingdoms series, and it is fittingly titled “It Ain’t Easy,” and it is from the seminal 1972 album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust.

“When you climb to the top of the mountain
Look out over the sea
Think about the places perhaps, where a young man could be
Then you jump back down to the rooftops
Look out over the town
Think about all of the strange things circulating ’round”

Like I mentioned, I hear this song and I think of Magnus and his struggle to find his place and his future within the battle for Mytica, and of course, I think of his blossoming feelings for Princess Cleo and what that could bring to the table.

 

Fifth is one of Bowie’s songs that was co-written with the late Beatle, John Lennon.  “Fame” fits a number of novels that I could think of, but this one in particular.

“Fame, makes a man take things over
Fame, lets him loose, hard to swallow
Fame, puts you there where things are hollow
Fame”

Of course I immediately thought of Emery Lord’s country pop star novel, Open Road Summer, when I listened to this song today after hearing of Bowie’s passing.  For me this song is for Lilah, because she loses so much in her fame throughout the novel, including someone she loves.  So it is a good fit.

 

 

This is probably one of Bowie’s more romantic songs, in my opinion, and “Soul Love” is another amazing track from The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust.

 

“New love – a boy and girl are talking
New words – that only they can share in
New words – a love so strong it tears their hearts
To sleep – through the fleeting hours of morning”

I had to choose Emily Henry’s debut novel, The Love that Split the World, when listening to this song again.  It really just made my heart feel all of the emotions that I felt when reading Natalie and Beau’s love story.  My review of this book will be up on January 29, so sit tight and listen to “Soul Love” while you wait.

 

 

The last song I picked for this post is one of Bowie’s most popular, the catchy “Changes” from his album Hunky Dory.

“Don’t tell them to grow up and out of it
Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes
(Turn and face the stranger)
Ch-ch-Changes
Where’s your shame
You’ve left us up to our necks in it
Time may change me
But you can’t trace time”

I had to chose Adam Silvera’s More Happy than Not for this song, because there are a lot of things going on in Aaron’s life and he is going through a lot of change.  He is going through change with the death of his father, his sexuality, and understanding what it really is that makes him happy.

 

Thank you, David Bowie, for being a constant innovator and a true role model for individuals everywhere.  Thank you for showing that reinvention of self and art is beautiful. Thank you for the music.

 

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