Author: Adam Silvera
Publication Date: September 8, 2020 (Deluxe Edition); June 2, 2015 (Original Edition)
Print Length: 352 pages
Read Date(s): September 17, 2021 – September 18, 2021
A special Deluxe Edition of Adam Silvera’s groundbreaking debut featuring an introduction by Angie Thomas, New York Times bestselling author of The Hate U Give, a new final chapter, and an afterword about where it all began.
In his twisty, heartbreaking, profoundly moving New York Times bestselling-debut, Adam Silvera brings to life a charged, dangerous near-future summer in the Bronx.
In the months following his father’s suicide, sixteen-year-old Aaron Soto can’t seem to find happiness again, despite the support of his girlfriend, Genevieve, and his overworked mom. Grief and the smile-shaped scar on his wrist won’t let him forget the pain. But when Aaron meets Thomas, a new kid in the neighborhood, something starts to shift inside him. Aaron can’t deny his unexpected feelings for Thomas despite the tensions their friendship has created with Genevieve and his tight-knit crew. Since Aaron can’t stay away from Thomas or turn off his newfound happiness, he considers taking drastic actions. The Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-altering procedure will straighten him out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is.
Why does happiness have to be so hard?
This is one of few books I have read almost completely in one sitting. It was that captivating. It left me an emotional mess feeling heartbroken, which lasted for days after finishing the book. The reading experience felt as if my heart was ripped from my chest, stomped on, lit on fire, and then put back with the expectation it would function the same as before. Needless to say, tears were shed multiple times, and the book left me in a very contemplative state by the time I had finished it.
It started out innocuous enough following Aaron Soto as he navigated his day to day life in the Bronx after losing his father to suicide. It was definitely already sad because of that but not devastatingly so. The story followed Aaron as his summer began and he met a new friend. Their blossoming relationship led to him beginning to have feelings for said friend, which upends his relationships with his girlfriend and his group of friends. He decided that using a new procedure to remove memories of that part of him would solve his problems and allow him to live a ‘normal’ straight life. Then the twist happened and my heart absolutely shattered. The rest of the book just twisted the knife over and over again, and the original ending left me speechless. The supplemental ending was a nice touch that provided an update on the main characters and left things on a slightly happier note.
The characters and environment were both brilliantly executed. It felt like I was dropped on the streets of the Bronx, and all of the main characters behaved like I would imagine real teens would act in a similar situation. Many of the characters exhibited the identity confusion so common in this age range, and I particularly enjoyed reading about how Thomas approached this iconic conflict of adolescence. The somewhat sci fi element of the memory-altering procedure was also interesting and added an intriguing mechanism by which to explore some deep themes. However, the author was able to use it skillfully without needing to include drawn out technical explanations, which I appreciated as I think it would have just distracted from the overall narrative.
So many interesting themes and ideas were explored in this book, it will be impossible to go over them all here. Ultimately, it was a book about learning to accept oneself despite the opinions of others and the necessity of finding happiness within the bad things that may happen in life. One of the key takeaways of this book was the message that bad things will inevitably happen to every single person but how we respond to them is the determining factor in our happiness. It also illustrated that attempting to erase, change, or bury who we are or the bad things that happen to us does nothing to help us move forward but instead keeps us trapped in the past. Furthermore, this story pointed out the healing power of acceptance, friendship, and love while also demonstrating the devastating psychological impacts of toxic masculinity, homophobia, and poverty.
This is how I’m going to win – not from running away from the memories, but from confronting them dead-on…it’s okay to hurt…I’m excited to find the sun in the darkness in these stories, and if I can’t I will work to create my own light.
I’m more happy than not.
Remember that.More Happy Than Not, pgs. 321-322
More Happy Than Not was a book that broke my heart but also gave me a great deal of hope. If the main character could not only survive his ordeals but find happiness within them, there is no reason I, or anyone else, cannot do the same. I recommend it for everyone as it teaches an important lesson, but I think anyone who has trouble reading about death, suicide, or extreme homophobia should approach this book with caution. The impact of this book on me is hard to put into words, but I can’t think of another book that made me feel so much in such a short period of time. It was a book I will never be able to forget, and I foresee reading it again multiple times in the future. Therefore, I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars.