October 19, 2011

Blog Tour Review: Reasons to Be Happy

Title: Reasons to Be Happy
Author: Katrina Kittle


Let’s see, you could be a plain Jane daughter of two gorgeous famous people; move to a new school; have no real friends; your mom could get sick; and, oh yeah, you could have the most embarrassing secret in the world. Yep, that about does it.

Hannah is an eighth grader trying her hardest to cling to what she knows and loves while her world shatters around her.  Her parents are glamorous Hollywood royalty, and sometimes she feels like the ugly duckling in a family of swans. Faced with her mother’s death and her father’s withdrawal into grief, Hannah turns to the one thing she can control: her weight.
Hannah’s self-destructive secret takes over her life, but the new Beverly Hills clique she's befriended at school only reinforces her desire to be beautiful, and not even the quirky misfit Jasper—the only one who seems to notice or care—can help. It will take a journey unlike any other to remind Hannah of who she really is, and to begin to get that girl back.  Reasons to Be Happy is about standing up for all the things you love—including yourself.

My Review
I liked this book I really did.  I liked that it tackled a really tough topic - bulimia and how girls buy into the idea of having to be thin, perfect and wear the right clothes.  It's a topic that needs to be covered because it's out there.  I see it every day - not bulimia, but that struggle of wanting to fit it but yet be yourself.  I teach 12 year olds, and it's right there everyday in front of my face.  And then it comes home with me in the form of my 12 year old daughter.  

Here's what I liked:  I liked Hannah.  I felt for her.  My heart when out to her over and over. I just wanted to hug her and tell her that she was perfect just the way she was.  I just wanted to keep her there until she understood and believed that.  I really think that if it hadn't been for how much I liked Hannah and wanted to see her come out of this - I would not have liked the book.  I talk to my students about bringing a character to life and making them someone the reader cares about.  Katrina Kittle did that with Hannah for me.  She because a real girl that I could see in my classroom.

I had a hard time with Hannah's dad.  He angered me! Here he had a drinking problem, was acknowledging it but couldn't see that Hannah's problem was just like his.  I know that he was dealing with the loss of his wife, but boy did I just want to shake him.  

And what I really liked was watching all the characters in the story - the main character of Hannah but other characters as well - grow and change and become closer to who they should be.  What a strong model for girls reading this book to see.  Maybe if they see how Hannah grew, they'll see how they can grow and be ok with who and how they are.  

One issue I had with the book - At the start Katrina Kittle has an introduction that talks about why she wrote the book.  She wanted to help girls not give up who they were and become part of the crowd.  I loved that idea.  The issue I had was how this was carried out.  Hannah - in one day - gave up who she was.  Her first day of school a girl helped her find her way, and that one girl, in one day, changed Hannah.  I had a hard time with that.  It just seemed too sudden.  Then Hannah went to Africa as a way to get away from what was happening at home and try to over come her bulimia.  It was great for Hannah, but this isn't realistic for the everyday girl.  I would've liked to see Hannah become stronger in a place most girls would find themselves.  That wouldn't be Africa.  That disappointed me some because I worry that some girls won't be able to see how Hannah's story can be theirs simple because of where she went.  The story was still great, but I do worry that about that.  

For the Guys?  No. It's about girls dealing with very big girl issues.

Final thought:  Great book that shows a strong girl becoming stronger.  I just worry that some girls won't connect that dots.
Best stick-with-you image:  The goat in her room!
Best for readers who: Can handle a tough topic
Best for ages: 12+

1 comment:

  1. This one looks good-I've seen it around. I think I'd have the same issue though, I hate when things happen too suddenly in books, esepcially when dealing with big issues.