Skip to main content

Some Kind of Happiness

When I read MG, it is often a balancing act. I read MG as a teacher who wants to have great books to put in the hands of kids that will excite them about the world around them and what they can learn about it from books. I read MG as a mom with kids who I want to inspire and (at some times) protect. I read MG as myself just because it's some of the best literature out there and I love it. Sometimes the these three different roles of mine are in disagreement. More often than not they are in agreement. I usually am aware of all three roles whenever I am reading though. Rare is the book that comes along and makes me forget all of that and just live it. Some Kind of Happiness by Claire Legrand was one of those rare books.

Finley Hart is spending the summer with father's family who she has never before met. Her parents are having problems and feel a couple of months to figure out their next step will be a good thing. Finley finds herself surrounded by cousins she has never met, aunts who say cryptic things, and grandparents who she feels distant from. Finley has always found comfort and solace in her writing. She has notebooks full of stories of the Everwood, but then she discovers the Everwood right there behind her grandparents' house. In the woods she discovers an abandoned house with a secret, a group of pirate boys she is not allowed to talk to, and freedom and joy with her cousins who she lets into her world. But something isn't right. Not in the Everwood. Not in Hart House. Not with Finley. To save the Everwood, Finley has to save herself, but she will need all the help she can get from the people who love her.

Some Kind of Happiness is an intense read. Legrand's prose pulls the reader in from the very first page and doesn't let go. I did not want to put this book down. There were times I had to out of necessity but I found my thoughts consumed by Finley and her world while I was away from it. This is a book where the character relationships are far more important than the plot (though the plot is important and fabulous too). Books like this are my favorite especially when the relationships develop organically. The book begins with Finley feeling abandoned and alone. She is scared and confused. Her world has become very small and it is almost claustrophobic. With each new human connection Finley makes both she and her world start to open up. The relationships with each of the family members is incredibly well done. Finley's adventures with her cousins closest in age to her are wonderful. Finley's growing closeness to her grandfather and the truly heartbreaking roadblocks that spring up in that is beautiful. Finley's relationship with Jack Bailey, a neighbor boy the Hart grandchildren are not allowed to associate with, is about as perfect a friend/crush relationship in a MG as I've seen. But my favorite is Finley's relationship with her teenage cousin Avery. Avery and Finley are incredibly similar and I adored what they did for each other. Finley's growing relationship with her grandmother is complicated and fraught. The strength of all of them is how realistically messy they all are. A major theme in this book is family love and bonds. The way those supersede a lot of awful aspects of people's personalities and pasts.

The story of the book is Finley's journey mirrored by the story of the orphan queen of the Everwood in Finley's stories. There is a mystery and secrets. Legrand hands the pieces of the main puzzle to the reader one piece at a time until the story culminates in a huge reveal. The reveal itself is not powerful in its shock value, but its emotional payoff. The way it makes all the complicated messy relationships and the darkness in Finley's mind come together in a beautiful hard cathartic moment. But nothing is ever as easy as that and there is fallout and problems still to be faced. The story of the dark secret in the mystery mirrors Finley's personal secret-the depression and anxiety she is fighting but can not control. The way Legrand built these two threads parallel to each other and then wove them together is noting short of genius.

Some Kind of Happiness is not a book that is going to hold universal appeal for all readers, though it does have a little something for everyone. It does add something to MG we don't have-an amazing in depth heartfelt look at childhood depression. I hesitate to say that because I'm afraid people will immediately think that dealing with depression equates with depressing. That couldn't be further from the case. There is hope, joy, humor and every human emotion imaginable in this book. It is LIFE and it is beautiful.

I read an ARC made available by the publisher, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, via Edelweiss. Some Kind of Happiness is on sale May 17th.


Anonymous said…
I'm so excited to read this! The idea of the character's world expanding sounds like a perfect exploration of her overcoming her depression.
Brandy said…
It really is! And Legrand's prose is beautifully perfect.

Popular posts from this blog

TTT: Most Recent Additions to My TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly themed blog hop created by  The Broke and the Bookish  and now hosted at  That Artsy Reader Girl . This Week's Topic: Most Recent Additions to My TBR List From Most Recent to Least: What books have recently caught your eye?

Favorite Kissing Scenes

When thinking of a favorite things post I could do for February I decided it would have to be kissing. I've already done couples and I was feeling in the mood to do something fluffy and Valentine's related. So kisses it is. I read more MG than YA, and the YA I read tends to not focus on romance so this was actually harder than I expected it to be though a few jumped into my head right away. (And one of my choices does actually come from a MG book. One is adult. Gasp!) The actual scene from the book is quoted followed by my thoughts. The king lifted a hand to her cheek and kissed her. It was not a kiss between strangers, not even a kiss between a bride and a groom. It was a kiss between a man and his wife, and when it was over, the king closed his eyes and rested his forehead against the hollow of the queen's shoulder, like a man seeking respite, like a man reaching home at the end of the day . - The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner Turner doesn't write the


Shadowshaper  by Daniel José Older is everywhere. Best of lists. Award buzz. Blogs everywhere. It's one of those books everyone is reading and talking about. I had it on my TBR but decided I definitely needed to read it before the year was out just so I could weigh in on one of the most talked about books of 2015 if asked. It is deserving of every good thing said about it. Every. One. Sierra was looking forward to a relaxing summer break. Her plans involved hanging out with her friends and painting. They did not involve being chased by zombie like creatures and threatened by a magical power connected to her family's heritage she has never heard of. When murals begin fading all over her Brooklyn neighborhood, Sierra is perplexed. When her grandfather, who had a stroke, begins to apologize and starts repeating strange phases and insisting Sierra get the help of a boy she barely knows to help her finish her mural, Sierra is concerned but mostly about her grandfather. Then at a

Jinx's Fire

I have been a big fan of Jinx and company from the very first book, which felt like such a perfect Brandy book. The conclusion of Sage Blackwood's trilogy, Jinx's Fire , finished the story beautifully and is definitely my favorite of the three. Spoilers for first two books abound. Read those first: Jinx Jinx's Magic The Urwald is in danger from more than one direction and has no hope of defending itself if there is not unity amongst the people. Jinx, Sophie, Elfwyn, Wendell, and a dedicated group of others are working to make this happen as quickly as they can. Time is running out. At the same time, they are still dealing with the threat of the Bonemaster from within, and the Urwald's magic is fading. Where is it going? Can it be restored? And where has the Bonemaster put Simon? Jinx is the only one who can find the answers to these questions, and harnass the Urwald's power to save them all, but only if he is willing. Jinx has some serious attitude in this

Serafina and the Black Cloak

Serafina and the Black Cloak  by Robert Beatty is a thrilling tale of mystery and adventure set at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC in 1899. Having lived in Asheville and visited the house several times, there was no way I was going to pass up a chance to read this. (Also it's MG fantasy, always a bonus for me.) Serafina lives in secret in the basement of the Vanderbilt's spacious vacation home. She has lived there most of her life. Her father worked on the house as it was being built and is the mechanic who runs the massive generator and keeps the electricity going. Serafina is the chief rat catcher, slipping through the halls of her massive home secretly and quietly. She is light on her feet, sees well in the dark, and is quick enough to catch the vermin and keep them out. Serafina knows she if different and strange. Her father insists she stay hidden. But all that changes when one night Serafina witnesses a horrible crime. A little girl, a guest in the house, is fleein