Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Book Review: Reasons To Be Happy by Katrina Kittle

Title: Reasons To Be Happy
Author: Katrina Kittle
Reading Level: Middle Grad
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwokcy
ARC, 265 pages
Date Published: October 1, 2011
Description (Taken from Goodreads):
Hannah's parents are glamorous Hollywood royalty, and sometimes she feels like the ugly duckling in a family of swans. After her mother's tragic death, Hannah's grief is compounded by her desperate need to live up to her mother's image. She tries to control her weight through Bulimia, and her devastated father is too distracted to notice. The secret of her eating disorder weighs heavily on Hannah, but the new eighth grade Beverly Hills clique she's befriended only reinforces her desire to be beautiful. The only one who seems to notice, or care, that something is wrong is Jasper, the quirky mistfit.
We all have our reasons to be happy, things that make us smile or brighten our days, but Hannah Carlisle has a notebook full of them. A notebook that is supposed to help her when times get rough. Only her reasons aren’t enough. Her pain is deep, her loss monumental, her emotions raw. Hannah Carlisle will wander into the hearts of readers, burrow herself there, and force us to confront every unsettling, upsetting, and beautiful thing about this eighth grader and her journey to find herself again.

Katrina Kittle implicitly understands the young adult mind. Hannah is an insecure eight grader who questions everything about herself. She doesn’t want to be scared, she doesn’t want to be bulimic, but she doesn’t know how to change it. Kittle’s take on bulimia, the way she calls it a disgusting monster and handles Hannah’s situation more than realistically, is the perfect way to express such a prevalent issue with teens, with anyone.

Hannah is superbly fleshed out, with a family, hopes, dreams, and upsets. Each of her ‘reasons to be happy’ help to see just a little more into the girl that she was and the girl that she’s trying to find again. Not only can any young girl relate to Hannah, but anyone will like her, care about her, and hope with every fiber of their being that she’s strong enough, that she has the right support system, to get through everything.

Reasons To Be Happy isn’t lighthearted and bubbly. It isn’t a glimpse into the picture perfect life of a child born of two actors. It’s a devastating portrayal of a delightful girl who loses herself, but is strong enough and stubborn enough to not stay lost. It’s heartbreaking and will affect its middle grade audience, but also any person who has ever felt lost, alone, or confused.

My most favorite thing about the book isn’t even Hannah’s reasons – though they are superb – or her family – who I couldn’t help but love – it’s that her struggle is just that, a struggle. One doesn’t just get rid of an eating disorder, just as one doesn’t simply kick a bad habit or get over an addiction. You have to fight for it. And Katrina Kittle made me feel like I fought for it with Hannah. We fought, we cried, we hurt, but we’re still here. And that’s what matters most.

Opening line:
I used to be brave. ~ pg. 1

Favorite lines/passages: I’m such coward I kept sitting with those girls I know are horrible. I feel trapped. I don’t know how to break free, and each day I don’t speak up, it gets harder to figure out how. I’m paralyzed. ~ pg. 23

*This is the ARC version and lines, pages, cover art may differ from final copy  

 4.5 - Should be in every middle school library
*This review is my honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation from it.

Find Katrina Kittle online:
  Pre-order it online:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble| The Book Depository | Indiebound

And in case you weren't sold on the book already, here are five (7 really, but two aren't numbered) of my favorite Reasons to Be Happy, all courtesy of Hannah's list:

2. Outrunning a forest fire
16. Fang-like icicles that make whole houses look like monster mouths
97. Remembering dreams
154. Cute videos of kittens when you're having a stressful day
177. Hot cocoa with little marshmallows
Making a difference


Katrina said...

Thank you so, so much for this generous review! I'm so glad you loved Hannah, too.

BrittLit said...

This sounds interesting. From the cover I would think it was a light fluff read. Glad I read this review, I'll have to get it for my library soon.

Nikki (Wicked Awesome Books) said...

Katrina - You are so very welcome!!

Britt - The cover is very deceiving because I thought it would be fairly light too. It's not really heavy though either. It just has a serious subject matter, but it's done in a way that MG readers can get into it and relate. It's a must for a library.

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