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more happy than not

More Happy Than Not
Authors: Adam Silvera
Published: June 2, 2015 by Soho Teen

GoodReads Summary: In his twisty, gritty, profoundly moving debut—called “mandatory reading” by the New York Times—Adam Silvera brings to life a charged, dangerous near-future summer in the Bronx.

In the months after his father’s suicide, it’s been tough for 16-year-old Aaron Soto to find happiness again–but he’s still gunning for it. With the support of his girlfriend Genevieve and his overworked mom, he’s slowly remembering what that might feel like. But grief and the smile-shaped scar on his wrist prevent him from forgetting completely.

When Genevieve leaves for a couple of weeks, Aaron spends all his time hanging out with this new guy, Thomas. Aaron’s crew notices, and they’re not exactly thrilled. But Aaron can’t deny the happiness Thomas brings or how Thomas makes him feel safe from himself, despite the tensions their friendship is stirring with his girlfriend and friends. Since Aaron can’t stay away from Thomas or turn off his newfound feelings for him, he considers turning to the Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is.

Why does happiness have to be so hard?

Review: After Aaron’s father commits suicide, he finds it difficult to find his place in the world, and the smile-shaped scar on his wrist is just one reminder of this struggle. Aaron considers turning to an institute that has the capability to alter his memory—because he wants to forget that he is gay. The text is heart-wrenching, emotionally profound, and deeply moving. Weeks after I read it, I found that I was still referencing it in daily conversations with teacher friends. I also designed a conference proposal based on a concept from this book. This is an important book that belongs in classrooms.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Students will enjoy debating the ethics of the Leteo Institute’s procedure. My book club had a heated debate, and at the end, I still didn’t know where I stood! Teachers might bring in other examples from the media of people who have experienced trauma and ask students—would it be okay for this person to have the procedure done? When is it ethically okay (if ever)?

Discussion Questions: How does the author unfold the plot for the reader? How does this impact the telling of the story?; Which of Aaron’s friends are loyal? Why?; What does this procedure say about humanity? Do you think people would undergo the procedure? Who might be most likely to undergo the procedure?; How does the author end the novel? What does this teach us?

We Flagged: “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.”

Read This If You Loved: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, None of the Above by I. W. Gregorio, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

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