More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

More Happy Than Not

byAdam Silvera

Hardcover | June 2, 2015

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In his twisty, gritty, profoundly moving New York Times bestselling-debut—also called “mandatory reading” and selected as an Editors' Choice 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 sixteen-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?

“Silvera managed to leave me smiling after totally breaking my heart. Unforgettable.”
—Becky Albertalli, author of Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda 

"Adam Silvera explores the inner workings of a painful world and he delivers this with heartfelt honesty and a courageous, confident hand . . . A mesmerizing, unforgettable tour de force."
—John Corey Whaley, National Book Award finalist and author of Where Things Come Back and Noggin 

About The Author

Adam Silvera was born and raised in the Bronx. He has worked in the publishing industry as a children’s bookseller, marketing assistant at a literary development company, and book reviewer of children’s and young adult novels. His debut novel, More Happy Than Not, received multiple starred reviews and is a New York Times bestseller, an...
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Details & Specs

Title:More Happy Than NotFormat:HardcoverDimensions:304 pages, 8.5 × 5.8 × 1 inPublished:June 2, 2015Publisher:Soho PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1616955600

ISBN - 13:9781616955601

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It turns out the Leteo procedure isn’t bullshit.     The first time I saw a poster on the subway promoting the institute that could make you forget things, I thought it was a marketing campaign for some new science fiction movie. And when I saw the headline “Here Today, Gone Tomorrow!” on the cover of a newspaper, I mistook it as something boring, like the cure for some new flu—I didn’t think they were talking about memories. It rained that weekend, so I hung out with my friends at the Laundromat, chilling in front of the security guard’s old TV. Every single news station was interviewing different representatives of the Leteo Institute to find out more about the “revolutionary science of memory alteration and suppression.”    I called bullshit at the end of each one.    Except now we know the procedure is 100 percent real and 0 percent bullshit because one of our own has gone through it.    That’s what Brendan, my sort of best friend, tells me at least. I know him as much for his honesty as I know Baby Freddy’s mother for her dedication to confirming the gossip that comes her way. (Rumor has it she’s learning basic French because her neighbor down the hall may be having an affair with the married superintendent, and the language barrier is a bit of a block. But, well, that’s gossip too.)    “So Leteo is legit?” I sit down by the sandbox no one plays in because of ringworm.    Brendan paces back and forth, dribbling our friend Deon’s basketball between his legs. “That’s why Kyle and his family bounced,” he says. “Fresh start.”    I don’t even have to ask what he forgot. Kyle’s identical twin brother, Kenneth, was gunned down last December for sleeping with this guy Jordan’s younger sister. Kyle was the one who actually slept with her, though. I know grief just fine, but I can’t imagine living day by day with that—knowing the brother I shared a face and secret language with was ripped out of my life when the bullets were meant for me.    “Well, good luck to him, right?”    “Yeah, sure,” Brendan says.    The usual suspects are outside today. Skinny-Dave and Fat-Dave—who are unrelated, just both named Dave—come out of our local bodega, Good Food’s Store, where I’ve been working part-time for the past couple of months. They’re throwing back quarter juices and potato chips. Baby Freddy glides on by with his new steel orange bike, and I remember when we used to give him shit years ago for still needing training wheels—but the joke is on me since my father never got a chance to teach me to ride at all. Me-Crazy is sitting on the ground, having a conversation with the wall; and everyone else, the adults mainly, are preparing for this weekend’s community event of the year.    Family Day.    This will be the first time we’re celebrating Family Day without Kenneth and Kyle, or Brendan’s parents, or my dad. It’s not like Dad and I were gonna have father–son wheelbarrow races or father–son basketball games; besides, Dad always paired up with my brother, Eric. But father–son anything would’ve been better than this. I can’t imagine it’s any easier for Brendan, even though his parents are both alive. It might be worse, since they’re just out of reach in boxy jail cells for separate crimes: his mother for armed robbery, his father for assaulting a police officer after he was caught dealing meth. Now he lives with his grandfather who is thugging it out at eighty-eight.    “Everyone’s going to expect smiles from us,” I say.    “Everyone can go suck it,” Brendan replies. He pockets his hands, and I bet there’s weed in there; dealing pot has been his way of growing up faster, even though it’s pretty much what landed his dad in prison eight months ago. He checks his watch, struggling to read what the hands are saying. “I have to go meet someone.” He doesn’t even wait for me to respond before he walks off.    He’s a guy of few words, which is why he’s only my sort of best friend. A real best friend would use a lot of words to make you feel somewhat good about your life when you’re thinking about ending it. Like I tried to. Instead, he distanced himself from me because he felt as if he had a duty to hang with the other black kids—which I thought and still think is bullshit.    I miss the time when we took full advantage of summer nights, ignoring curfew so we could lie down on the black mat of the jungle gym and talk about girls and futures too big for us—which always seemed like it might be okay, as long we were stuck here with each other. Now we come outside because of routine, not brotherhood.    It’s just one more thing I have to pretend I’m okay with.Home is a one-bedroom apartment for the four of us. I mean, three of us. Three.    I share the living room with Eric, who should be home any minute now from his shift at the used video game store on Third Avenue. He’ll power on one of his two gaming consoles, chat with his online friends through a headset, and play until his team bows out around 4 a.m. I bet Mom will try and get him to apply to some colleges. I don’t plan on sticking around for the argument.    There are stacks of unread comics on my side of the room. I bought a lot of them for cheap, like between seventy-five cents and two dollars at my favorite comic shop, without any real intention to read them from start to finish. I just like having a collection to show off whenever one of my more well-off friends comes over. I subscribed to one series, The Dark Alternates, when everyone got into it at school last year, but so far I’ve only gotten around to flipping through them to see if the artists have done anything interesting.    Whenever I really get into a book, I draw my favorite scenes inside them: in World War Z, I drew the Battle of Yonkers where zombies dominated; in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, I drew the moment we meet the Headless Horseman because that was when I suddenly cared about an otherwise so-so ghost story; and, in Scorpius Hawthorne and the Convict of Abbadon—the third book in my favorite fantasy series about a demonic boy wizard—I drew the monstrous Abbadon being split into two from Scorpius’s Sever Charm.   I haven’t been drawing very much lately.   The shower always takes a few minutes to heat up so I turn it on and go check on my mom. I knock on her bedroom door, and she doesn’t answer. The TV is on, though. When your only living parent isn’t responding, you can’t help but think of that time when your father was found dead in the bathtub—and the possibility that beyond your home’s only bedroom door life as an orphan awaits you. So I go inside.   She’s just waking up from her second nap of the day to an episode of Law & Order. “You okay, Mom?”   “I’m fine, my son.” She rarely calls me Aaron or “my baby” anymore, and while I was never a fan of the latter, especially whenever my friends were around, at least it showed that there was life inside of her. Now she’s just wiped.   Beside her is a half-eaten slice of pizza she asked me to get her from Yolanda’s Pizzeria, the empty cup of coffee I brought her back from Joey’s, and a couple of Leteo pamphlets she picked up on her own. She’s always believed in the procedure, but that means nothing to me since she also believes in Santeria. She puts on her glasses, which conveniently hide the sunken lines around her eyes from her crazy work hours. She’s a social worker at Washington Hospital five days a week, and spends four evenings handling meat at the supermarket for extra cash to keep this tiny roof over our heads.   “You didn’t like the pizza? I can get you something else.”    Mom ignores this. She gets out of bed, tugging at the collar of her sister’s hand-me-down shirt she recently lost enough weight to fit into because of her “Poverty Diet,” and hugs me harder than she has since Dad died. “I wish there was something else we could’ve done.”   “Uh . . .” I hug her back, never knowing what to say when she cries about what Dad did and what I tried to do. I just look at the Leteo pamphlets again. There is something else we could’ve done for him—we just never would’ve been able to afford it. “I should probably shower before the water gets cold again. Sorry.”    She lets me go. “It’s okay, my son.”   I pretend everything is okay as I rush to the bathroom where steam has fogged up the mirror. I quickly undress. But I stop before stepping in because the tub—finally clean after lots of bleach—remains the spot where he took his life. His memories sucker punch my brother and me at every turn: the pen marks on the wall where he measured our height; the king-sized bed where he would flip us while watching the news; the stove where he cooked empanadas for our birthdays. We can’t exactly justescape these things by moving into a different, bigger apartment. No, we’re stuck here in this place where we have to shake mouse shit out of our shoes and inspect our glasses of soda before drinking in case roaches dived in while our backs were turned.   Our hot water doesn’t run hot for very long so I jump in before I miss my chance.   I rest my head against the wall, the water sliding through my hair and down my back, and I think about all the memories I would want Leteo to bury. They all have to do with living in a post-Dad world. I flip over my wrist and stare at my scar. I can’t believe I was once that guy who carved a smile into his wrist because he couldn’t find happiness, that guy who thought he would find it in death. No matter what drove my dad to kill himself—his tough upbringing in a home with eight older brothers, or his job at the infamous post office up the block, or any one of a million reasons—I have to push ahead with the people who don’t take the easy way out, who love me enough to stay alive even when life sucks.   I trace the smiling scar, left to right and right to left, happy to have it as a reminder not to be such a dumbass again.

Editorial Reviews

Praise for More Happy Than NotA New York Times BestsellerA New York Times Editors' ChoiceA Paste Magazine Best Young Adult Novel of All TimeA Booklist Best First Novel of 2015 and a Booklist Editors' Choice of 2015A Kirkus Best Teen Book of 2015An ABA Indie Next SelectionAn Amazon Best Young Adult of 2015A Refinery29 Best Diverse Young Adult BookA Popsugar.com Best of 2015A Bustle.com Best Young Adult Book of 2015A New York Public Library Top 10 Young Adult Novels of 2015A Los Angeles Public Library Best Teen Books of 2015The Latinidad List Best Young Adult Novel of the YearA Magill’s Literary Annual 2016 Selection"A beautiful debut novel [that] manages a delicate knitting of class politics through an ambitious narrative about sexual identity and connection that considers the heavy weight and constructive value of traumatic memory . . . Aaron's Bronx universe [is captured] with a precision that feels at once dreamy and casually reportorial . . . Mandatory reading."—The New York Times Book Review"[Silvera] throws in a hugely rewarding, whiplash-worthy twist in the last third of the novel. A bold, inventive, raw look at male sexuality in an irresistible sci-fi package." —The Globe and Mail"[An] important addition to speculative fiction for young adults . . . Silvera's tale combines the best features of science fiction with social justice in this engaging read, as Aaron finds a place where he belongs."—Los Angeles Times"Heartfelt . . . The futuristic twist, with its poignant repercussions, drives home a memorable, thoroughly contemporary theme: who you are inside is not something that can or should be erased . . . Lose your memories, lose your pain, lose yourself."—Chicago Tribune"A gut-wrenching story telling of race and sexuality."—The Guardian“This is definitely at the top of my YA list. There’s a realness to its main character, Aaron Soto, and his struggle to be who he really is. It confronts race and sexuality in a way I haven’t seen in the genre before.”—Latina Magazine"Smart . . . Sensitively told." —Good Housekeeping"Poignant . . . So engrossing that once you start it, you won't be able to put it down. Don't say we didn't warn you."—TeenVogue.com"This is a cry-on-the-subway book, so watch out."—MTV.com"This is a beautifully written book that seems to get sadder with every page, but never feels hopeless." —Refinery29.com "Silvera’s debut is equal parts gut-punch and warm hug, not to mention sweet, funny, creative, and a really welcome entry to YA with regard to having characters coming from a lower socioeconomic background." —BN.com"Silvera, like [Benjamin Alire Sáenz], is a beautiful writer. Aaron’s story is heart-wrenching, funny, inspirational, and eye-opening. This is a really special novel from an extremely gifted new writer."—Bustle"A compassionate read that you'll want to pass on to everyone you know."—Metro US"One of the most heartrending YA reads you’ll ever pick up. And despite the slight sci-fi twist, everything in the novel feels so very real. More Happy Than Not will leave you shaken for days, if not weeks." —Paste Magazine"What to expect if you read this unique story: complete and absolute heartbreak, probably tears (unless you're heartless, that is), and moments that will make you smile ear to ear." —PopCrush.com "[Silvera] explores the possibilities of a world where death, and life, can be forgotten, roles rewritten and broken hearts mended. This is a story not just of a young man coming out, but a dramatic and heart-wrenching story of first loves, first heartbreaks, grief and the quest for happiness."—Shelf Awareness, Starred Review"For its explorations of sexuality, poverty, and race in the Bronx along with its subversion of the traditional hero’s journey, More Happy Than Not is one of this summer’s most anticipated YA debuts. And if you’re hesitant about its 'YA' distinction, the novel is also an absorbing, thought-provoking, and timely read for people of all ages—perfect for a day on the beach."—NEXT Magazine"[A story] of love and expectation and self-discovery, and of declaring yourself to a world that will never give you a soft landing."—B&N Teen Blog"A dark and deeply affecting book, More Happy than Not asks young readers to reflect courageously on the value of memory and self."—The Monitor"Throughout the story, the reader will find herself wanting to hug Aaron, shake him, and ultimately her heart will break for him. This reporter finished the book as though Aaron’s life depended on it." —Planet Jackson Hole"No matter who you are, More Happy Than Not is almost impossible not to enjoy." —Bucks County Courier Times"A mind-blowing story . . . A story about love, and acceptance that will absolutely break your heart." —PopCrush.com"This is not like any story you've ever read about self-discovery and acceptance. This is the story about self-discovery and acceptance."—YA Books Central"Revolutionary . . . strikingly poignant . . . It is a stunning examination of why we make the choices we make." —BookBrowse.com"On top of the fact that More Happy Than Not is a great young adult novel and a great debut novel, this is just a good book. It's heartbreaking, funny and hopeful, and I don't think I'll be able to forget it." —The Spencer Daily Reporter"Many readers will identify with Aaron, whether or not they are dealing with issues of orientation . . . Silvera draws wonderfully complex characters and deftly portrays the relationships among them. The true beauty of this book is the way Silvera subtly reveals the plot—readers find Aaron coming out to them in a gradual way."—VOYA "Vividly written and intricately plotted: a well-executed twist will cause readers to reassess what they thought knew about Aaron's life . . . Beyond gritty . . . Silvera pulls no punches."—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review"A fresh spin on what begins as a fairly standard, if well executed, story of a teen experiencing firsts—first love, first sex, first loss—and struggling with his identity and sexuality . . . Prejudice is illustrated with gut-wrenching brutality and its effects are scarring, but Silvera tempers it with the genuine love and acceptance Aaron receives from a few important friends and family members . . . Ingenious."—Booklist, Starred Review"Places a straightforward concept—what if you could erase unwanted memories?—squarely within an honest depiction of the pains of navigating the teen years and upends all expectations for a plot resolution . . . A multifaceted look at some of the more unsettling aspects of human relationships. A brilliantly conceived page-turner."—Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review"A gripping read—Silvera skillfully weaves together many divergent young adult themes within an engrossing, intense narrative."—School Library Journal, Starred Review"The novel takes an unexpected, complex turn . . . In the end, readers are left with a gripping story about one memorable teen, and if it also leaves them pondering how his life might have been different if various elements had been improved, that is likely the exact takeaway intended."—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books"[Silvera is] a phenomenal talent and is destined to be a star." —James Dawson, author of This Book Is Gay"Adam Silvera explores the inner workings of a painful world and he delivers this with heartfelt honesty and a courageous, confident hand. Combine these with a one-of-a-kind voice and a genius idea, and what you have is a mesmerizing, unforgettable tour de force."  —John Corey Whaley, National Book Award finalist and author of Where Things Come Back and Noggin “Adam Silvera is a voice missing in YA fiction. The honesty of his words and his ability to tell a story make you realize that we’ve been waiting for him. I’m blown away.”—Holly Goldberg Sloan, author of Counting by 7s and I'll Be There"An important new voice in YA literature, in More Happy Than Not Adam Silvera has created a passionate, searing narrative with characters who feel unique and totally familiar. I found myself rooting for Aaron Soto and his family from page one. More Happy Than Not is an unforgettable read."—Alex London, author of Proxy and Guardian"A debut as deft as it is sharp, as honest as it is assured, and, above all, extremely moving. Silvera pulls his punches with an energy, daring, and intensity that left me spellbound—and reminded me why I love to read." —Adele Griffin, author of The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone"Inventive and daring, Silvera's gritty debut kept me turning pages until 2 A.M. His writing crackles with challenging questions, searing and timely."—Aaron Hartzler, author of Rapture Practice“Aaron is one of the most interesting, authentic teen narrators I’ve met, and his story is told with incredible courage and unflinching honesty. Silvera managed to leave me smiling after totally breaking my heart. Unforgettable.” —Becky Albertalli, National Book Award nominee and author of Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda“Adam Silvera’s More Happy Than Not is a fantastic magic trick I haven't stopped thinking about since I finished reading and suspect will stay with me for some time to come.” —Jasmine Warga, author of My Heart and Other Black Holes"Adam Silvera harnesses a certain reckless energy and unleashes it through the voice of Aaron Soto. Aaron Soto is astounding, full of heart, wit, youthful energy, and a deep desire to be honest about who he is in the world. He sinks into your skin so you can't stop thinking about him even when you aren't reading. High on story, character, and some perfectly executed twists, I loved this book."—David Arnold, author of Mosquitoland