(oh my goodness, this cover!)
Title: SOME KIND OF HAPPINESS
Author: Claire Legrand
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publish Date: May 17, 2016
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.
Every once in while a book comes along that really speaks to you. That makes you want to pick up every book this author has ever written. Makes you wonder how you’ve gone this long without reading their words. Convinces you to buy every book they ever write in the future.
SOME KIND OF HAPPINESS is one of those books for me.
I wanted to pull Finley out of the pages and hug her close. Help her with her darkness and her blue days. Explore with her in Everland. Struggle with her through her 10-year-old life.
This book felt so real that I felt depressed, anxious, and breathless as I was reading it … even though when it was done, I couldn’t stop smiling. That’s not saying the ending is tied up in a neat bow, it’s just one of those books that I was so happy I read. And it’s not saying the book is depressing, it isn’t. I was just pulled into Finley’s head and world so completely that when she felt something, I felt it right along with her.
Legrand’s prose was on pointe, as was her ability to not just set the place, but the mood and the tone: the atmosphere. SKOH has so much atmosphere.
This book is one of those real issues books that are good for young readers today. I didn’t deal with anxiety or depression as a child, but have had bouts and days of it as an adult, and I know there are children who do experience this. How special and important is it for them to see themselves on the page and know they are not alone. How many kids do you know who have had to deal with their parents’ divorce or even talk of it? How many have family secrets? Are exploring relationships and wondering how to fit in? There are so many real kid characters in this book, it’d be hard for a kid to not find themselves or their situation.
As a reader and a storyteller, there is a special appreciation for the representation of words and stories and imagination healing a broken heart/soul. Everwood is the place Finley writes about when she is so blue she needs a place to escape. When her Everwood world starts entwining with the real world, it is magical, mysterious, and makes your heart break and burst.
The importance of truth is an important theme. We need to be truthful with ourselves, with our family, with our communities, or tangled webs are weaved and there isn’t always a way out. In this book, there isn’t always a way out.
But the characters are living. And they are trying. And there is love, and trust, and betrayal, and forgiveness, and playfulness, and emptiness, and tender moments, and life-changing hours. Causes you to remember not to judge a book by its cover, or a white house with a picket fence by it’s appearance, or a well-dressed, put together, smiling person by theirs.
Be true to yourself, be honest about your feelings (allow yourself to feel), allow yourself to heal.
This is part of MARVELOUS MIDDLE GRADE MONDAY over on Shannon Messenger’s Blog, where there’s always other middle grade reads to find out about.