Review: More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

Part Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, part Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Adam Silvera’s extraordinary debut confronts race, class, and sexuality during one charged near-future summer in the Bronx.

Sixteen-year-old Aaron Soto is struggling to find happiness after a family tragedy leaves him reeling. He’s slowly remembering what happiness might feel like this summer with the support of his girlfriend Genevieve, but it’s his new best friend, Thomas, who really gets Aaron to open up about his past and confront his future.

As Thomas and Aaron get closer, Aaron discovers things about himself that threaten to shatter his newfound contentment. A revolutionary memory-alteration procedure, courtesy of the Leteo Institute, might be the way to straighten himself out. But what if it means forgetting who he truly is?

Summary taken from Goodreads
  • Title: More Happy than Not
  • Author: Adam Silvera 
  • Publisher: Soho Teen 
  • Genre: Own-voices, YA, Contemporary, LGBTQ
  • Age Range: YA
  • Representation: Main character is a character of color, LGBTQ+
  • Trigger warnings: Suicide, parental death, self harm, depression, domestic violence, violence, homophobia, transphobia
  • Rating:  ★★★☆ 

2020 must be the year I (re)read all of Adam Silvera’s works, because this year alone, I’ve read or reread Infinity Son, They Both Die at the End, What If It’s Us, and now, More Happy Than Not — maybe I’ll reread History is All You Left Me soon, but I’m not entirely sure if I’m ready for that level of pain yet. It’s no secret that I love angst and pain, but I’ve got nothing on Adam “Allergic to Happy Endings” Silvera. 

When I was introduced to Adam Silvera’s books three years ago, I had been told very little aside from “These books will make you cry”. I proceeded to read all three books that were out (They Both Die at the End, More Happy Than Not, and History Is All You Left Me) in the span of a week, and spent a lot of time in tears. Although three years had passed since I first read it, I was incredibly excited to see that Silvera was releasing a “More Happy Ending”. Silvera’s books often leave me wanting more; always vaguely unsettled, always in tears, but always in the best way. Most importantly, Silvera’s books are always a reminder that it’s okay to not have happy endings, and that happiness can mean different things. 

In quarantine, I’ve found it comforting to sit on Zoom with some friends and read in silence. There’s a sort of reassurance and comfort that comes with knowing that there’s someone there with you, and to see your reactions. I think that’s the appeal of livetweeting a book, although I’ve never felt compelled to livetweet a book — live text, sure, but never live tweet. Perhaps that’s because I’m usually quite oblivious to plot twists, and I don’t like being wrong. I happened to reread all of More Happy Than Not on one of these Zoom calls, and upon explaining the plot, one of my friends said “Someone needs to give Adam Silvera a hug”. Honestly, someone needs to give me a hug. I really don’t think anyone should read an Adam Silvera book without a hug, a warm cup of tea, a pet on their lap, and a box of tissues nearby. 

“Memories: some can be sucker punching, others carry you forward; some stay with you forever, others you forget on your own. You can’t really know which ones you’ll survive if you don’t stay on the battlefield, bad times shooting at you like bullets. But if you’re lucky, you’ll have plenty of good times to shield you.” 

More Happy Than Not felt like a sucker gut punch, one after the other. At 22, I’m more confident in my sexuality than I was when I first read the book at 18, but the feelings that More Happy Than Not evoked are all the same, if not amplified. My heart broke again for Aaron Soto, and for all he’d been through, upon this reread. And just like with every time I reread a book, I noticed more foreshadowing that I’d initially missed; things that I’d thought were just lines were secretly clues to the plot twist. 

While I appreciate Adam Silvera’s books for their unhappy endings, I think there’s something to be valued in happy endings as well, especially ones where characters heal and come to terms with their trauma. In the foreword, Silvera writes: “I may have written this book for myself, but I wrote “More Happy Ending” for all of us”, and I loved it. More Happy Ending was everything I wanted and more; I loved seeing Aaron’s life after. I loved seeing him heal. 

Overall, I think More Happy Than Not is something so relatable, and I really did appreciate the new ending. There were some lines in More Happy Than Not that – as Silvera wrote – he wouldn’t have written today, and I’d hoped that he (or the publishing team) would’ve taken this time to rewrite those bits, but unfortunately they were left in. I’d most likely give it 4 stars — rounding up from 3.5. 

Goodreads | TheStorygraph | Bookshop | Indie Bound

About the Author

Adam Silvera is the New York Times bestselling author of Infinity Son, They Both Die at the EndMore Happy Than NotHistory Is All You Left Me, and What If It’s Us with Becky Albertalli. All his novels have received multiple starred reviews. He worked in the publishing industry as a children’s bookseller, community manager at a content development company, and book reviewer of children’s and young adult novels. He was born and raised in New York. He lives in Los Angeles and is tall for no reason. 

Photo Credit: Elliot Knight

Follow Adam: Website | Goodreads | Instagram | Twitter | 

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