I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this, but I absolutely adore book dedication – more often than not, they’ll tell you a little something about the author, the story or if you’re lucky you’ll find one that sounds like it was written just for you. The dedication in Some Kind of Happiness is absolutely perfect,
“If you are afraid, sad, tired, or lonely
if you feel lost or strange
if you crave stories and adventure,
and the magic possibility of a forest path –
this book is for you”
This book was suggested to me by a good friend, frequent library user and fellow blogger. She’s normally a young adult reader, so when she picked up this book and enjoyed it, she knew she had to tell me about it – and I’m so glad she did!
Some Kind of Happiness is the story of Finley as she spends the summer with her estranged extended family on her father’s side – she’s never met any aunts, uncles, cousins or her grandparents. But, her own parents are having problems and they want to spend the summer figuring out the next step for the family and believe that Finley would be better off at her grandparents’ house. Finley has no idea why her she’s never met the family or what everyone is hiding as she discovers a run-down old house in the woods, is told never to hang around the Bailey’s (the kids next door) and learns secrets in her grandparents’ house that she’s not allowed to talk about. Because if you don’t talk about an issue somehow her grandparents feel it will just go away, but Finley knows differently. Finley has secrets of her own as she tries to navigate her “blue days” where feelings of sadness and anxiety threaten to overwhelm her. Her only escape is Everwood, a fantastical place Finley created in the pages of her notebook, but soon she shares her stories with her cousins as they try to discover some answers to the many secrets of the magical forest and of her grandparents’ house.
This writing is this book is absolutely amazing – creating a realistic world and a fantastical one – both of which are fully developed and described so vividly. I also really enjoyed Finley’s voice – her understanding that these “blue days” are not normal, while realizing she has nothing to be sad about – yet not being able to do anything about it. Legrand also does a great job of navigating the children through an adult’s world and fully understanding that children pick up more than adults ever know and can handle the truth even when the adults in their lives sometimes cannot.
What I love more than anything about middle grade fiction is that even when there are “big issues” – such as divorce and depression as there are in this book, there is an element of hope that runs as an undercurrent through the story, giving the reader a sense of security; that even though there are tough times, the protagonist will be alright. This is a definite must-read and a story that will resonate with a lot of middle grade readers as they find there place in the world.
Twitter Booktalk (14o characters or less): Finley’s “blue days” threaten to overwhelm her; her escape- Everwood, a place that exists only in her mind-until she visits her grandparents
Title: Some Kind of Happiness
Author: Claire Legrand
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 2016
Page Number: 374 pgs.