September 2, 2016
Some Kind of Happiness by Claire Legrand
There are all kinds of things that Finley Hart doesn’t want to discuss. Fortunately, Finley is a compulsive list maker (hello, my friend!) so you don’t have to go too far to discover what these things are:
• 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 can’t believe it is really happening. She’s always known that somewhere her father had a family but she’s also known that they aren’t something you talk about. Try and Dad shuts you down. So she’s understandably a bit apprehensive when her parents announce that they have problems to work out and are taking her to spend the summer with her father’s family.
For a kid with undiagnosed depression and anxiety this is a big deal. A huge deal. An earth shattering deal.
Finley deals with it the same way she deals with everything. She retreats into her journal. But where her parents were busy with their careers, her cousins try to be understanding but they want to get to know her. Soon she connects with fellow 11-year-old Gretchen and pulls her into the world of the Everwood.
But is isn’t just Finley who changes. As Finley notices some odd things and starts to ask questions, she pulls the cousins into this questioning mode. Soon they are hanging out with the Bailey boys, a trio of brothers that the cousins know only as reputed trouble makers. But Finley sees something else and starts to ask why the Bailey family has this reputation.
I’m not going to write any more about the plot because there is too much that I don’t want to give away. This is an excellent book, unless you can’t stand it. A writing buddy demanded that I read it. It was, in her words, the ultimate bummer book with mental illness, cancer, divorce, hidden crimes and more. It was just too much.
My take? Wow. Legrand has worked in mental illness, cancer, divorce, hidden crimes and more. It is just too much but in an amazing way. This isn’t a book you are going to feel half way about.
What did I love?
Legrand has given young readers an accurate portrayal of a peer dealing with mental illness. That’s a huge deal.
This is also an accurate portrayal of what happens when a family is divided by secrets. Another huge deal.
But it is also a story of love and bravery and doing the right thing. It is a hopeful take on the idea that even the most broken among us can make connections with others and find a way to move forward. It is a powerful message for young readers who may need a bit of a hope in a world gone grey with depression, divorce or anxiety.
Wow. Just wow.