[GUEST POST] More Happy Than Not - Adam Silvera
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. (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon)
I love this book.
Silvera has an ability to capture moments which allow readers to enjoy the strangeness of the setting--a near-future Bronx--while relishing some familiarity. He hits the right notes to render Aaron’s summer of self-discovery with subtlety. Things like the scent of summer rain or freshly cut grass, More Happy Than Not will, for some, evoke distant memories, and more importantly for the majority, feelings of hope, yearning, and loss.
I particularly enjoyed the colloquial and boyish nature of Aaron and his friends as they play games, contrasted by the harsh realities they live in. Silvera explores a unique intersection of race, class, and sexuality, which is so underrepresented in the canon of queer literature. Amidst this exploration however, I would be remiss if I didn’t express my slight frustration with the relationship between internalized-homophobia and masculinity, which went largely unchallenged within the text. Perhaps it’s a largely subjective beef, but in harnessing the tropes of the closet the book became a little more formulaic at times, which is understandable given where the story is set.
That being said, however, I still loved this book and wasn’t able to put it down! It’s an amazing read and I think you would be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t put it high on your TBR list for 2015. More Happy Than Not will certainly leave you feeling, well, more happy than not.