book thoughts: Happyface by Stephen Emond

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Stephen Emond

Happyface, like Whip It, is another teen story that surprised me.  It’s got so many elements that you find in other young adult books, but some how Emond manages to put enough of a twist on the story that I could not put the book down.

One reason is that it’s not a normal book.  This is Happyface’s journal.  After having to leave his home town after his parent’s divorce, the young man decides he’s not going to be the quiet kid in the corner drawing pictures, and reinvents himself as Happyface – the happy, outgoing, cool kid.  We follow his journey through his notes and artwork.  Don’t be fooled, this isn’t a silly story.  While Happyface tries to maintain a sense of humor in his new persona, the story and themes are relatively serious.

What I think I really enjoyed about this book was Emond’s writing Happyface as an unreliable narrator.  You don’t realize it at first.  When you start the book, it feels very “Dear Diary” and you assume that Happyface is just telling you everything about his life.  But you begin to realize that pieces are missing.  He’s not documenting his life for future generations, he’s just using this journal to sketch, to vent, to ramble…so bits of information trickles in at a random pace.

I think this is what really drew me into the book (no pun intended).  Suddenly, I realized, maybe Happyface wasn’t doing as well as he said.  Maybe things that happened to him and around him were not everything he wrote down.  Because how much would you write down about something that changed your life forever?  You wouldn’t need to – your life has changed, why would you have to note why?? 

It’s a very fast read, perfect for older teens, especially reluctant reader boys who are trying to figure themselves out.  I really loved this book and the idea behind it. 

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