(Image from Egmont USA)
Minerva Watson knows not to expect too much for her sixteenth birthday. Even though she's been hinting for months about the beautiful ukulele she's dying to possess, her mother's the queen of clueless gift-giving. When the FedEx man shows up with a surprise present, Minerva is shocked to see that it's from the father she hasn't seen since she was three years old. Seeing the name Keanu Choy blows all thoughts of ukuleles from her mind. According to the return address on the package, Minerva's dad lives in nearby Chicago. According to the card he included, he wants to get to know her. Unsure how to feel, Minerva hides the gift in her closet, knowing her mother would explode if she knew about it.
While Minerva's trying to decide what to do about her father's sudden, out-of-the-blue interest in her life, she's got other things to worry about. There's her exhausting new job as a birthday party princess, the money she still needs for her precious uke, and the confusing gymnastics her heart performs every time she's near Hayes Martinelli. As if that weren't enough to give her an ulcer, she also needs to find the courage to ask her mom for the truth about Keanu Choy. But, does she really want to know? Does she dare let the man who walked out on her over a decade ago back into her life? When she woke up on her birthday morning, Minerva thought the only thing she needed to be happy was a ukulele; now she wonders about the things she's been missing all her life and if it's worth risking everything to get them.
For a YA novel that clocks in at under 230 pages, Get Happy by Mary Amato, is surprisingly difficult to summarize. Why is that? Probably because Minerva has no real story goal, so the plot feels unfocused, more episodic than purposeful. Which isn't to say the novel isn't entertaining. It is. Get Happy brims over with warmth, heart and humor, making for a bright, fun tale—with substance. Still, the novel's flimsy plot, coupled with its selfish, whiny heroine stopped me from loving this one. In the end, it was only an okay read for me. I did appreciate the book's clean, hopeful tone—something that's rare in YA books—I just wish Get Happy had been a little better crafted. Ah, well.
Note: One of the fun things about Get Happy is that it includes lyrics for songs Minerva makes up throughout the book. Amato, who not only sings and plays guitar and ukulele, but also writes songs, has paired the lyrics with chords so that you can actually play/sing Minerva's songs yourself. You can find the music in the back of the book. If you'd like to hear songs from both Get Happy and Guitar Notes performed, visit Amato's website at: www.thrumsociety.com .
Also: If you want more opinions about Get Happy, follow along on its blog tour. You can check out the tour page here. Be sure to visit Unorthodox Mama, who is also reviewing the book today.)
(Readalikes: Um, I can't think of anything. Can you?)
If this were a movie, it would be rated:
for intense situations and brief mention of prostitution
To the FTC, with love: I received a finished copy of Get Happy from the generous folks at Egmont in exchange for my participation in the book's blog tour. Thank you!
Now, for the exciting part. Egmont is providing one copy of Mary Amato's Get Happy for a giveaway here at BBB. If you want a chance to win, please comment on this post and tell me what makes YOU happy. Be sure and include a working email address so that I can contact you if you win. Also, please note that the giveaway is only open to readers with a U.S. or Canadian mailing address. I will choose a winner on Wednesday, November 11. Good luck!