Friday, April 23, 2010

Happyface by Stephen Emond

happyface Happyface
Stephen Emond
Little, Brown
March 2010

After going through traumatic times, a troubled, socially awkward teenager moves to a new school where he tries to reinvent himself.

My Thoughts
Wow, this is one great book.  First off, underneath the smile on the jacket is a sad face.  Genius.  This book is part comic, part diary in the style of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. And it works.  That's a hard format because you have to keep the story going throughout the art that's included.  I think Stephen Emond did a great job with this.  The topper for me is, I have NO idea what the main character's name is!  They call him Happyface and his IM name is Cartoonboy but I couldn't find it anywhere. Love it!

Happyface is totally in love with the hot girl neighbor, Chloe, who also happens to be his BFF.  She is also the only person he thinks he needs.  His family is falling apart before his eyes.  He decides to chronicle everything in a sketchpad he received from his dad. Unfortunately, things start going from bad to worse and he hits rock bottom on August 23rd:

"Today is the Day the World Changed, and that is all I will say because I don't ever want to think of it again."

Happyface moves to Crest Falls with his mom. "You lose your money and then you come here, with everyone else who's lost money."  But then things start getting better because he figures out he can be whoever he wants because he's in a new town at a new school and nobody knows his past.  So he changes background and becomes cool, confident Happyface.  He has friends and he's funny and he may even have a girlfriend.  But like all good things, this too must end.  In the age of internet access, you can find out almost anything and his past gets Googled. Happyface finds he is still very angry about everything.  And maybe there is more about his past he needs to uncover.

This was a powerful book.  When Happyface first moves to his new school, he takes an oath.  He will be himself despite his past.  But then he decides that he will be someone else due to his past.  And of course, we know it won't work, it never does.  But Stephen Emond puts a little twist on it because Happyface's past didn't just come and jump him out of the blue, instead it snuck up on him so he thought he was ok and that if he just kept going like nothing happened, no one would be the wiser.  It was painful and sad as things slowly started to unravel.  He has to let the smile go.

The story was good and the characters interesting. Each one of Happyface's friends could have their own books.  I would especially have loved to see this story continue with more about Gretchen, Happyface's second love.  Gretchen always had at least two ex-boyfriends around her, she enjoyed drinking, and had a terrible relationship with her parents.  As Happyface points out, she was also wearing a mask. 

The Amazing Dancer snagged this one before I could read it and had passed it around to seven or eight other students before I got it back.  That tells me I need at least 4 copies

1 comment:



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