Some Kind of Happiness, by Claire Legrand
Description: (from Simon & Schuster)
Things Finley Hart doesn’t want to talk about:
-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’s only retreat is the Everwood, a forest kingdom that exists in the pages of her notebook. Until she discovers the endless woods behind her grandparents’ house and realizes the Everwood is real—and holds more mysteries than she’d ever imagined, including a family of pirates that she isn’t allowed to talk to, trees covered in ash, and a strange old wizard living in a house made of bones.
With the help of her cousins, Finley sets out on a mission to save the dying Everwood and uncover its secrets. But as the mysteries pile up and the frightening sadness inside her grows, Finley realizes that if she wants to save the Everwood, she’ll first have to save herself.
This book. THIS BOOK. I wasn’t expecting to gain a new favourite when I started reading this. Of course when I buy a book I’m always hoping to love it, but this book moved me deeply and I found I couldn’t stop thinking about it. So here I am, writing a review on here so that more poeple can learn about it!
I had been meaning to read this book ever since it was published last year, mostly because the cover looks amazing, but what gave me the final push to buy a copy when it was released as a paperback was knowing Laura loved the book (her review) and the beautiful book aesthetic she made for it:
From the description of the novel, I thought it was going to be a novel with some mild fantasy elements, but it is not. It was not a disappointment to me thankfully, but I thought it was important to say right ahead.
Finley is a 10/11 years old girl who loves words and to write stories about the Everwoods in her precious notebook. As readers of the novel, we get a glimpse of her stories at the start of each chapters, sometimes as long a a page or three. Her stories echo her life and her struggle, and she often finds logic in them and explains the world around her through those, where unknown mean-looking boys are transformed into pirates and her cousin into a brave lady knight.
The fourth image in Laura’s aesthetic is actually very representative of this aspect of the story, when Finley and her cousins go into the forest behind their grandparents house to play and explore. It is a very atmospheric read at times, the woods feel almost alive.
Some kind of Happiness is a story about family, what it is to belong to one, to find one’s place and to be accepted. It is also about family’s secrets, about a troubled past that does not only haunts the grown-ups, but the younger ones as well. Where unsaid things hurt more than actual harsh words.
“I start to worry that I should be saying something. Most of the time I think I could be perfectly content without saying a single word, but no one else seems to function that way. There is so much talking in the world, and so much expectation to talk, even if you do not feel like talking. I find it overwhelming.”
I loved Finley as a character. She is always trying to be a good person, listening to others but also giving a chance to people who don’t always have a say in things. She’s also a young girl struggling with a great burden. While the words aren’t said for the most part of the story, I find it important to talk about it here: this book is about a little girl struggling with depression and anxiety. She does not understand, she does not know there are words for the “blue days” and dark thoughts that plague her, but poeple around her will help her figure things out. Not without difficulties.
“How can the world look so perfect when I feel so broken?”
Another thing I was glad regarding her mental illness is that there is no past trauma to explain it, there is no magical explanation nor magical cure. While mental illnesses can be caused by something, it also often isn’t and I more often than not find novels who use a mental illness to create a plot around a troubled past or event when it is not needed. So, another good point for this book! There is also a good portrayal of a therapist, which I appreciated. It is important to show people that those professionals are here to help. While Finley doesn’t react well to this encounter, it is still a good element of the novel in my opinion.
This is a very sad story, but also a very nice one. The way Finley grows closer to her family helps during the sad parts. While it moved me to tears more than once, it is also a story I’m so very glad exists, especially since it is aimed at younger readers. The back of the book says “8-12”, but I can tell you that this is one of those books that anyone can love.
I love the cover of this book so much that I posted a picture of it on two occasions on Instagram!