Title: Some Kind of Happiness
Written by Claire Legrand
Genre: Middle Grade, Contemporary
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Publication Date: May 17 2016
Paperback: 374 pages
THINGS FINLEY HART DOESN’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT
• 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 its 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.
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
How did I get this book: Bought
Format (e- or p-): ecopy
Finley’s summer begins with her being carted off to her grandparents’ house – grandparents whom she never met by the way, for… reasons. She doesn’t really know, neither do her cousins, who are also strangers to her. But summer is here, and she doesn’t really have a choice, and okay, maybe she might be able to have a good time, even though her grandmother is distant and cold, because at least her cousins and aunts seem to be awesome, and there are the kids next door – who for undisclosed reasons she is not supposed to be talking to.
One thing is for sure: there are a lot of secrets in this family. Like, why has she never met her grandparents before and why won’t anybody tell her why her father doesn’t visit them? Why can’t she play with those neighbours? What secret is her grandmother hiding behind closed doors? And what happened that summer all those years ago with the fire that destroyed the big house across the woods?
And in fairness, Finley also has a secret. A secret she doesn’t share with anyone. Definitely not with her parents, who have so many problems of their own, she doesn’t want to add to their worries. Often, she doesn’t even admit to herself she has this secret. But the secret is there, lying underneath, in wait. It’s all about those blue days, those days when she can’t be happy or feel connected to anyone or to the world, even when she wants to, or when she knows she should not feel so sad.
Writing is often a struggle but it can also be a lifeline. For Finley, her writing about a fantasy world called Everwood is a source of comfort and relief. But this summer, with so many happenings and so many emotions, Finley finds herself in dire need of help.
“I start to worry that I should be saying something. Most of the time I think I could be perfectly content without saying a single word, but no one else seems to function that way. There is so much talking in the world, and so much expectation to talk, even if you do not feel like talking. I find it overwhelming.”
Oh, Finley, Finley, Finley. Stab me in the heart with feelings, why don’t you?
Some Kind of Happiness is a beautiful book. It’s a book about family and secrets and belonging and finding help.
A book about a little girl who has depression and anxiety and who struggles to put a name to those things. It’s a slow progression to a point where Finley is comfortable sharing this – and it’s fantastic because the book avoids quick fixes: Finley goes to therapy, Finley has conversations with her family, secrets are unveiled but in the end, there is no magical cure although there is progression and hope.
A book that examines family and belonging and how people can be wrong and also still be worthy of love. How people can be lost and still be hopeful. The friendships and relationships that are forged between Finley and her grandparents, between Finley and her cousins and between Finley and the boys next door are so perfectly nice as well as fraught. This book brought me to tears multiple times over its loveliness.
Claire Legrand is an incredibly versatile author of MG and YA – if you haven’t read her books yet, get on this train, please.
Rating: 8 – Excellent