Friday, September 16, 2016

Book Review: Some Kind of Happiness by Claire Legrand

Title: Some Kind of Happiness
Author: Claire Legrand
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: May 17, 2016
Genre: Middle Grade, Contemporary, Mental Health
Length: 374 pages
Format: Hardcover
Source: Borrowed


-Her parents, who are having problems. (But they pretend like they're not.)
-Being sent to her grandparents house for the summer. 
-Never having met said grandparents. 
-Her blue days--when life feels overwhelming, and it's hard to keep her head up. (This happens a lot.)

Finley's only retreat is the Everwood, a forest kingdom that exists in the pages of her notebook. Until she discovers the endless woods behind her grandparents' house and realizes the Everwood is real--and holds more mysteries than she'd ever imagined, including a family of pirates that she isn't allowed to talk to, trees covered in ash, and a strange old wizard living in a house made of bones. 

With the help of her cousins, Finley sets out on a mission to save the dying Everwood and uncover it's secrets. But as the mysteries pile up and the frightening sadness inside her grows, Finley realizes that if she wants to save the Everwood, she'll first have to save herself. 

Reality and fantasy collide in this powerful, heartfelt novel about family, depression, and the power of imagination. 

My Thoughts: 
Don't let this book fool you. It's no fantasy. It's set in the real world and the people in the book have all too real problems. This is a book filled with dark family secrets and mental health issues. The main character uses writing fantasy as her way of escaping and coping with all the problems she faces. 

Finley Hart's parents aren't getting along and need a break from her to 'find themselves'. She's shipped off to the grandparents for the first time ever where she meets aunts, uncles, and cousins that she has never met before. She immediately feels like she doesn't belong; especially because something happened a long time ago between her father and his family. Her grandmother is kind of controlling and overbearing with lots of rules, some of which include staying away from the woods and the neighbor boys. Problem is, Finley has been writing about the Everwood for most of her short life and the woods that surround her grandparents' house is the Everwood. She is drawn to the forest and nothing can keep her out. 
Finley befriends her cousins, drawing them into the plot of her story, making it a game.  They meet the 'pirates' next door, find an old house in the woods, and break plenty of rules along the way. And in breaking rules, secrets are discovered. Secrets that Finley's new family doesn't want her, or anyone, to know.

The writing style was a little unique. Finley likes to make lists and loves to collect words and pages from her notebook and these are kind of intertwined with the narrative so we get lists, thoughts, and bits of her fantasy writing mixed in. I thought this all worked really well with giving us Finley's deeper thoughts and character. It also helped build the mystery. 

Some Kind of Happiness was a little of everything and I think that's why I enjoyed it so much even though it leans more toward contemporary. There's the mystery of her family, the house in the woods, and the neighbors. There's the fantasy story about the Everwood forest that Finley writes. There's Finley's adventures with her cousins and neighbors. 
And then there's also some coming-of-age tough life happenings and decisions that Finley has to deal with. She tries her best but there is always a sadness and a weight that she can't seem to shake. It takes her most of the book to find out that she has depression and anxiety, though the symptoms are very present throughout. So beyond everything else that this book is, the biggest message I got out of it was about mental health. 

My Rating:
4 stars

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