ARC Review: Get Happy by Mary Amato

A sweet, fun, emotional read from Mary Amato (author of Guitar Notes), Get Happy made me…well, happy.

Get HappyAuthor: Mary Amato

Genre: Contemporary, YA

Publisher: Egmont USA

Publication Date: October 28, 2014

256 pages, hardcover

NOTE: I was provided with an e-ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Egmont USA for letting me read this.

Get Happy is about high-school girl Minerva just wants to buy a ukulele and play songs while hanging out with her friends. In the novel, she learns that her father didn’t abandon her like her mother told her, and so she begins to investigate him. As Goodreads says, she “builds a substitute family with her friends in place of the broken family she grew up with.”

I’m not going to lie, I’m also a little iffy with books I get approved for on Netgalley. They can be hit or miss with me. It was also said to be for fans of Sarah Dessen (hit) and Gayle Forman (miss), so I was worried, but I shouldn’t have been. This one was a HIT. I’m really impressed with Amato’s writing and with this book.

Get Happy is a coming of age story for Minerva; we see her grow up and into herself as she navigates her first job, finding out her father is not who she thought he was, and fights with her mother. Realistic fiction has a tendency to feel decidedly not real, but not this book. Minerva’s feelings and actions all felt real and genuine, and because of this, I was really able to connect with Minerva and feel for her when it all went to hell. There was one part where something horrible happens (which I will not spoil) that I actually felt like I’d been punched in the gut. That’s a great author that can make me have such a reaction.

Minerva wasn’t the only great character either. Her best friend Fin is so full of life and a ton of fun. New friend Hayes is developed well too. Even the girl we don’t like is fully developed, so we actually do feel annoyed when she shows up. No characters were wasted or useless. I also liked that the parents in the book weren’t just in the background; they care about and protect their children. Even if they don’t always do the right thing, they’re still there.

The bottom line: Get Happy feels like a fun, light, easy read but it has some pretty deep feelings to get through. I really enjoyed it and am happy that I was able to read it.  Recommended for anyone who likes good contemporary, realistic fiction.

Rating: 7.5/10

Book Review: Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin

Fans of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time will love Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin, a book about a young girl with Asperger’s who loses her dog during a hurricane.

Rain ReignAuthor: Ann M. Martin

Genre: Middle grade, contemporary, realistic fiction

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Publication Date: October 7, 2014

240 pages

NOTE: I was provided with an e-ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Feiwel & Friends for letting me read this.

Rose is a young girl with a homonym for a name (Rose, rows). She’s obsessed with homonyms and prime numbers, both of which stem from her mild Asperger’s Syndrome. She lives at home with her father who doesn’t understand her, but one (won) day he brings home a dog that he found wandering outside. Rose names the dog Rain, which is also a homonym (rain, reign, rein) – a name that allows Rose to (two, too) connect with her dog on another level. When Hurricane Susan hits, Rain is lost and Rose makes a plan to find her.

This a very straightforward story (and character) with not many surprises. However, the characters and relationships between them makes this story stand out and be (bee) absolutely beautiful. Rose has relationships with several adults in (inn) the novel that are what move the story along: her father, who doesn’t understand her rules and gets easily frustrated with her and her peculiar obsessions, her teacher and the teaching aide that’s been assigned to her, who just try to help her, and her uncle, whose relationship with Rose develops even more throughout the story. The relationship between Rose and her uncle is the backbone to this novel and it is beautiful. Her uncle has the utmost patience and love for Rose, and their mutual warmth and understanding for each other will make your (you’re) heart melt.

I flew (flu) through this book in two days (and I had to work all day both days!). Ann M. Martin has created an absolutely powerful story that I (eye) will be thinking about for a long time (just like I still think about Curious Incident). The novel had a bit of an abrupt ending, but it leaves you (yew) with a passionate hope for Rose’s future.

(Rose includes homonyms after words like I did throughout this review when she gets upset. I really enjoyed this part of the book.)