Book Review: Get Happy by Mary Amato
In this poignant, realistic, contemporary YA by a state master list star, perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen and Gayle Forman, a young songwriter builds a substitute family with her friends in place of the broken family she grew up with.
A hip high school girl who loves music, writes songs, and is desperate for a ukulele, learns to her shock that her father did not abandon her years ago and has been trying to keep in touch. She begins to investigate him, only to discover that he has a new life with a new family, including the perfect stepdaughter, a girl who Minerva despises.
For as long as she can remember it has always been Minerva and her mother. And Minerva has but one wish – a ukulele. To make that wish come true, Minerva and her best friend get a job at the Get Happy birthday entertainment company (because her mom doesn’t understand her at all and got her another crappy cardigan for her 16th birthday – bad mom). Their job: To dress as various characters where they will sing songs and lead party games at kid parties. It is not Minerva’s dream job, but it does put cash in hand. The job is a source of much amusement and brings some very interesting people into Minerva’s life.
It turns out, however, that Minerva’s dad didn’t abandon her. He has, in fact, been trying to get in touch with her for some time. And it turns out that he is closer than she ever could have imagined. So while Minerva is trying to survive kid parties, she’s also trying to deal with a host of big emotions including the fact that her mom lied to her and then comes the major kaboom – who her dad is and the new family that he has built for himself.
Add to this mix one of the best friendships ever (I adore Fin) and a budding romance, and you have a YA title that is sure to please many, particularly the fans of authors like Gayle Forman. One of the best things about Amato is that not only does she combine music with her stories, but she writes stories that are accessible to the younger end of YA and the upper MG crowd who want to read YA but their parents may still be a little worried about the language and sex content.
Ukelele’s are all the rage right now. In fact, the Portland Public Library now has a Ukulele lending library, which you can read about here and here. So Amato’s book would seem to have perfect timing. Add to this the fact that it has characters that resonate, very real and challenging family dynamics, and a situation that really makes you wonder about the nature of family and forgiveness, and I think we have a winner here. The ending really left me thinking about what would happen next, the different ways that could look and what I thought could and should happen. If your readers are like me, they’ll have strong feelings about it all and they’ll want to discuss, making this a perfect book discussion title.
Some song lyrics and chords are included. Definitely recommended.
Get Happy by Mary Amato will be released by EgmontUSA on October 28, 2014. ISBN: 9781606845226
More on Books, Music, Teens and Libraries
More Books and Music Here, Here, and Here
Also, check out Heather Booth’s post on What the Ukulele Taught Me about Reluctant Readers
Mary Amato previously wrote a guest post for us here at TLT on Bringing Music into Your Library
And check out how you can make Guitar Pick Jewelry
Goodreads has a list of 288 titles tagged “Music”
I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
SLJ Blog Network