In honour of Pride Week, a fellow blogger posted a list of her favourite LGBT YA books. I had read a few of them, but not More Happy Than Not. I am so glad I saw it on her list, because this story broke my heart, and stayed with me long after I had finished the final page.
Aaron is 16 years old, living in a one bedroom apartment in the Bronx projects with his mother and older brother. He deals with a life of poverty, and alternates between anger and sadness at the loss of his father, who had taken his own life just months before the story begins. Aaron’s girlfriend, Genevieve, gets him through the pain of his father’s death and his own suicide attempt. But he is living a lie. He just doesn’t know the extent of it. Yet.
The Leteo Corporation promises a fix for those whose memories are too much. Taking its name from the Lethe, the Underworld river that removes the memories of those that immerse in it, Leteo promises hope and new life without guilt, fear or pain.
But Leteo offers another hope: if you are young and gay, and living in a neighbourhood where that fact can get you at best severely beaten, and at worst killed, Leteo can erase your memories and feelings, and you will believe you are straight.
Central to the story is Aaron finding himself and finding happiness being himself. Central is the theme that none of us chooses who we are, but must one day recognize what the universe hands us. Central is acceptance and diversity and the right to live the your life.
Author Adam Silvera writes amazing characters. Aaron’s mother is an incredible portrayal of selfless love, while his brother, Eric, keeps the boy’s secrets to protect him, although Aaron doesn’t realize it. The friends, boys Aaron had grown up with so hang out with by default, are so real. Thomas and Genevieve will make you cry.
I was laughing through tears by the final chapters. I fell in love with Aaron. How could anyone not? I wanted Aaron to accept himself and be happy, and wished with all my heart that he would find that happiness with the boy who made him realize he had the right to be himself.
This novel is diverse, complex, hopeful and terribly sad. It is a love story with an impossible outcome.
Appropriate for teens; there is violence and sex, although the descriptions are vague and not graphic. Say 14 and up, to be safe.
More Happy Than Not is published by Soho Teen.