Review + Giveaway: More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Adam Silvera's acclaimed debut novel (starred reviews from Kirkus! Publishers Weekly! School Library Journal! Booklist!) is out TODAY! And because I love you my dear readers, I'm giving away the ARC I won because I want YOU to be able to read this gem immediately!

More Happy Than Not
Title: More Happy Than Not
Author: Adam Silvera
Publisher: Soho Teen
Date of Publication: June 2, 2015

"A brilliantly conceived page-turner." -Kirkus Reviews, starred review.
"Vividly written and intricately plotted."-Publishers Weekly, starred review.

The Leteo Institute's revolutionary memory-relief procedure seems too good to be true to Aaron Soto -- miracle cure-alls don't tend to pop up in the Bronx projects. But Aaron can't forget how he's grown up poor or how his friends aren't always there for him. Like after his father committed suicide in their one bedroom apartment. Aaron has the support of his patient girlfriend, if not necessarily his distant brother and overworked mother, but it's not enough.

Then Thomas shows up. He has a sweet movie-watching setup on his roof, and he doesn't mind Aaron's obsession with a popular fantasy series. There are nicknames, inside jokes. Most importantly, Thomas doesn't mind talking about Aaron's past. But Aaron's newfound happiness isn't welcome on his block. Since he's can't stay away from Thomas or suddenly stop being gay, Aaron must turn to Leteo to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he is.

Adam Silvera's extraordinary debut novel offers a unique confrontation of race, class and sexuality during one charged near-future summer in the Bronx.

"[A]n engrossing, intense narrative."-School Library Journal, starred review.

"Thought provoking and imaginative."-Booklist, starred review.

Purchase from Amazon | B&N | The Book Depository


My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Thank you to Soho Teen for the copy I won! Receiving a copy from the publisher did not affect my views of the novel.

I admit, all the acclaim and the hype surrounding More Happy Than Not made me SO afraid to read it. WHAT IF I DON'T LOVE IT? WILL PEOPLE STILL BE FRIENDS WITH ME? But Miel of Bookish and Awesome (Linked is his review. Which is way better than whatever I'll write because he said EVERYTHING I want to say!) and I decided to buddy-read this one so I had to put my big-girl pants on. And I'm so glad I read this because MY HEART GOT SO FULL OF LOVE FOR AARON SOTO and so sad too because MY HEART WAS PULVERIZED.

It wasn't love at first sentence, what happened between More Happy Than Not and me. Maybe it was the burden of the hype or my mood when I started reading but I wasn't invested in MHTN right away. It was bleak! I started reading this last May while I was a bit down so the bleakness of Aaron dropping the bomb right away that his dad committed suicide was a lot to handle. But as I continued reading, I got to know Aaron Soto more. And the more I read about him, the more I got invested in his story. Because Aaron is a character worth knowing. (Infinite brownie points for a diverse character! He's Puerto Rican! Living in a Bronx housing project!)

We get to know Aaron more (He's a comic geek and he loves this fantasy series Scorpius Hawthorne and he doesn't know how to ride a bike [like me].) and his friends. While Aaron was not completely happy with his father's death and his own attempt to end his life still weighing him down, we can say he's trying to be happy. He has his ever-loving and ever-patient girlfriend Genevieve and the simple joys of hanging out with his friends. Then Genevieve has to go for a summer art camp and Aaron gets a new friend in Thomas from another housing project. They spend all summer together and because of Thomas, he's now happy. And Aaron realizes that he's a dude-liker, as he calls it. But being gay in the Bronx projects makes you a target for hate crime and with Thomas not returning his feelings too, Aaron decides to get the Leteo procedure -- fixing his memory so he forgets he's gay and so he can start anew.
"I don't want to be me.

I don't want to second-guess if my friends are going to be okay with me being me, and more importantly, I don't want to see what happens if they're not. I don't want to be someone who can't be friends with Thomas, because if there's anything worse than not being able to be with him, it's knowing our friendship will ultimately have an expiration date if being around him becomes impossible.

I know not being me will be a lie, but I know I'm doing myself a favor in the long run if I can somehow book a Leteo procedure. Because as I stand now, I have so much bullshit to look out for.

Happiness shouldn't be this hard."

WHICH JUST MADE ME BAWL. Scene: I was sneak-reading in class and while Aaron was trying not to cry, I was also trying not to cry during class. I needed to stop reading because I cannot break down in public... When I got home, you bet your ass I cried and heaved as freely as I could.

It broke my heart that Aaron wanted to be straight. To not be targeted and to not live through the pain of rejection. I previously read The Summer I Wasn't Me by Jessica Verdi where the protagonist was forced to go to a degayifying camp. That book made me rage because HOW CAN THERE BE PEOPLE WHO WANT TO DE-GAYIFY A PERSON? But with More Happy Than Not? I got so sad. Because it was Aaron HIMSELF who wanted to be straight.

(Can I just say that it's so damn hard to review this title because I feel like I can't talk about anything! That everything would be a spoiler! As much as this novel is driven by Aaron, it is also plot-driven so I cannot divulge plot points. You have to read it for yourself!)

I can't really talk about the latter half of the novel but JUST KNOW THAT IT WILL PULVERIZE YOUR HEART. The twist, GAH, THE TWIST. I couldn't deal! I was full-on crying, be it from the sibling love, the maternal love, and everything that Aaron went through. I couldn't even remember the feeling of not being invested in Aaron because all I wanted to do was hug him and take him away from such a homophobic society and shelter him and love him and protect him. NO PERSON SHOULD EXPERIENCE BEING ATTACKED FOR WHO THAT PERSON IS. But alas, our LGBTQIA* friends experience this every day.

I don't know how to end this review except that everyone should read More Happy Than Not. It's the kind of book people should read to gain insights and understanding. It tells it as it is, that being gay is not something you decide to be, it just is. With an array of characters you will feel the whole spectrum of emotions for (be it love, pity, understanding, hate, or rage), a plot that will take you through all the crests and troughs of Aaron's life, and themes always worth discussing and rallied for, Adam Silvera's More Happy Than Not will certainly cement itself in the YA landscape as a book that accurately presents how it is to be different in a society that silences and attacks the minority. I cannot wait for more books from Adam Silvera!

About Adam Silvera

Adam was born and raised in the Bronx and is tall for no reason. He was a bookseller before shifting to children's publishing where he worked at a literary development company, a creative writing website for teens, and as a book reviewer of children's and young adult novels. He lives in New York City.  

More Happy Than Not is his debut novel. 

Website | Twitter | Facebook


I won an ARC from Soho Teen but I'm giving it away to one lucky Philippine resident because YOU HAVE TO READ THIS ONE NOW! (So sorry my dear international readers but I can only afford to ship it locally!) Good luck!

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  1. Hmmm .. that's a hard question. No matter how bad that memory is, I still believe that it should be remembered. Life is not full of rainbows and unicorns. Sometimes we need to experience a bad memory to realize that so if I'll be given a chance to erase one bad memory of mine, I will answer, "thanks, but am not interested." :)

  2. Memories are a important part of us, and it shouldn't be erased because we learn from them.

  3. Being a big Harry Potter Fan, the spell I've always been terrified of is not "avada kedavra" but rather "obliviate." It is because I'm afraid of losing one of the things I see as extremely precious: My memories. Whether good or bad, I would never want to forget any of them. So nope, no memory erasing for me (even if I were to be given a chance)

  4. I would... Probably erase the memory that I was ever in love with my first love. I don't know if I still love him or not because I never got to say I loved him. He's never loved me back, but he was a huge part of my life in high school, but it only caused me pain.. and at some point it lingers with me and I couldn't pin point exactly what exact feelings I should have if I do meet him again, so, in any case, I would be happy to have an Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind moment. I know it'll be running away. I get it, but I just don't want to feel that hurt again.

  5. So, obviously we already discussed A LOT in the back channel but—gaah, your review gave me the flashbacks! PART ZERO. RIP ME.

    PS. Thank you for the generous words!

    1. False modesty does not become you, Miel. Haha!

  6. If I had given a chance to erase a memory, well I will erase a part of those memories of people who suffered from trauma, depression and abuse.

  7. If I could erase a memory of something that happened to me, it'd be that time when my sling bag was snatched from me as I got off from a bus and I was dragged through the highway. I know that bad things happen to normal people everyday but the trauma that the incident caused me is totally unnecessary. I am always hyper aware now every time I'm outside and my heart beats faster than it should whenever someone seems to be approaching me in public places. :(

  8. If I could erase a memory of mine, I think I'd want to forget that when I was a kid, someone deliberately shot our dog, it might not seem like a big deal, but it affected me that someone could be evil and intentionally hurt an innocent creature like that on a whim. Might also be a reason why I'm a cat person now, dogs get too attached to you and you get too attached to them too.

  9. I have an awful memory. I hardly remember anything from when I was younger. I don't even remember much about high school and I only graduated a few years ago.
    So for the memories I do remember.. I wouldn't erase any because everything that happens in life makes you who you are. Even if it a small, minor memory, there is always something to learn.
    In my life, everything I went through (whether it be good or bad) taught me so much, and makes me who I am today, and at this point things have turned around into a positive direction.

  10. I've been curious about this one, so I'm happy to see you enjoyed it. Memories, even the bad ones, help form who we are. We learn from everything and grow as a person. So interesting. :)

  11. So faaaar...., I still haven't experienced a worse enough happening in my life that I would ever want to erase, so I really am content with my memories. :D

  12. kitty's death, but then again, I probably wouldn't also feel that she was alive, so...maybe the fact that auntie (my lolo's sister) had to go through the things that she went through all those years ago. (too personal, cazn't share! :D)

  13. Traumatic memories I'd rather not mention. It's bad losing a precious memory, but I think it's worse if you have to live with bad ones every day of your life, and be constantly reminded of them.

  14. I don't want to erase any moment in my life yet. I would rather leave the sad and tough parts because without those I think I'd be a slightly different person.

  15. If I could erase a memory of mine, I think It would be some of my traumatic experiences or if not the most embarrassing one. :)

  16. If I could erase a specific memory, it would have to be the sad parts of my relationship with my ex. I have already exerted much effort to "forget" but it would be great if the only the happy parts remained.

  17. I'd erase the memories where I didn't have an open mind towards LGBTs like I was around 5 years old or something but still, I hated that it was planted in my head not to support them, which I find completely stupid now

  18. That is quite a difficult question but if given a chance, I want to erase the memory of my first kiss. It was not I expected and it was disappointing.

  19. I would erase my memories of being bullied.

  20. I would probably erase the memory of me having feelings with my bestfriend. Cheesy, I know but I think we'd still be in touch if I haven't had feelings for him. Not that I'd want to, I didn't lose him. He lost me. Okay, enough of this. Hahaha!

  21. I don't want erase any of my memories. Even if it's the most embarrassing one. It's part of learning and growing up to be better.

  22. So glad you enjoyed this, I've heard such wonderful things! I have a copy waiting to be read and can't to get to it very soon. Great review!

    1. Rebecca, oh you. I am a bit ashamed of how incoherent I am in this review but it's because I can't talk about anything much! But I'm glad you're just waiting for your copy. GO READ IT WHEN YOU GET IT! Thank you for checking out my review! <3

  23. i hope this one won't be too disheartening in the end...

  24. i would like to forget my tormentor back when i was just a little girl...


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