Thursday 8 September 2016

Book Club Picks #3 More Happy Than Not

Along with the lovely Hot Key Books sending us a book each month, we also vote on another book to read that we can choose for ourselves! Last month we chose More Happy than Not by Adam Silvera. 

. After Aaron Soto's father commits suicide, Aaron feels lost in life. After his own suicide attempt, Aaron is trying to get his life back on track, and not allow his past to haunt him. However when his girlfriend leaves town for a couple of weeks, he finds himself spending more and more time with his new friend, Thomas. Aaron slowly realises that he is developing romantic feelings for Thomas, and that his feelings for Genevieve may not be genuine. Aaron finally decides to turn to a Leteo, a place that has advanced technology to the point where they are able to alter memories. Aaron must decide if he wants to forget his fathers suicide and his feelings for Thomas, or to deal with his traumatic past and his sexuality.

 When I first started reading this book, I had no idea what it was going to be about. It follows Aaron, a seemingly average teenage boy from New York who has a girlfriend and a group of friends. However, when he meets Thomas, everything changes. When his girlfriend Genevieve leaves town to work on her art at a retreat, Aaron grows closer to Thomas, and they soon become best friends. Aaron soon discovers that he has romantic feelings for Thomas, forcing him to realise that his feelings for Genevieve may not be genuine. The first half of the book made it seem like the story was going to be a cute gay romance with a side of Sci-Fi. I immediately liked Thomas, and felt that the book was going in the direction of Thomas becoming Aaron's boyfriend. However, the tone of the book completely changes around the half way point, and I realised that my prediction couldn't be more wrong! I always love it when a book takes me completely by surprise, and this one definitely did that.

Although the book initially seems contemporary, it comes with a Sci-Fi twist. As Aaron comes to realise he is gay, and the memories of his father's suicide constantly haunt him, he decides to visit a memory altering facility. I thought this was really interesting, and it made me wonder how many people would actually go through this procedure if it were real. As humans, we all experience grief at some point, which can ruin our day to day lives, so this made me wonder if people bearing huge emotional burdens would risk a procedure like this.

There was a huge plot twist in the middle of the book that I wasn't expecting at all! I loved that it went over the past year of Aaron's life to explain what had happened to him, and how he had got to the point of wanting his memories altered. The book focuses quite a bit on homophobia, and how his father being homophobic towards him at a young age made Aaron believe that being gay was bad, and that the only way he could be “fixed” was to get his memories altered to make him straight. The sad truth is many parents actually do act like Aaron's dad, saying harmful things to their sons, such as telling them they aren't allowed to play with toys that are marketed towards girls. Playing with dolls will in no way make a child gay, as sexuality is not a thing we choose, it is something that we are, and that we have no control over, and I felt as if this book shows that message perfectly.In the end, there is no amount of memory modification that can change Aaron's sexuality, and I loved that he finally came to realise and accept that. Along with loving the fact that Aaron couldn't become straight, I also loved that Thomas explained he couldn't become gay just because Aaron had a crush on him. It showed perfectly that sexuality can't be changed at will, no matter what you identify as.

The ending was both a mixture of happy and sad,and although I felt terrible for Aaron, I was glad that he still had his friends. Genevieve and Thomas are extremely loyal friends, and although Aaron has upset them both, they stick by him no matter what. Besides Aaron and his family, they were the only two characters who I actually liked, as I felt that characters like Colin were only nice to him for personal gain. I honestly couldn't get myself to like Colin, and I was happy that in the end, Aaron wasn't too bothered about romance and was just glad to have Thomas and Genevieve in his life.

This is an important book which focuses on love, friendship, sexuality, guilt and betrayal, and I would honestly recommend it to anyone! It is both funny and heart wrenching, and we definitely need more books like this one!

Follow us at @TheBookClubs to join in with our September read along!

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