How To Be Happy - David Burton

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Title: How To Be Happy
Author: David Burton
First Published: August 26th 2015
Publisher: Text Publishing
Source: Review copy provided by the wonderful people from Text Publishing

Trigger warning whilst reading the book: Self Harm

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I've lied to you already.
I don't know how to be happy.
Yeah, Sorry. Awkward.
Okay, let me rephrase. I don't know how to make you happy. But I have a pretty good idea about what would help.

Badly wanting a girlfriend, convinced he's not normal, and tormented by bullies, David searches for a way to fit in, a way to be happy. But nothing seems to be going right - his first date is a  disaster, and despite all his efforts he loses his best friend. And when his own triumphant solution leads him into anxiety and bleak despair, things get very serious.

My Thoughts:

Just quickly writing informally, David, you're a bloody legend. How To Be Happy is just incredible and just down right HILARIOUS. I wish I had a hundred more ways to say incredible at the top of my head so I can use it to describe the book. 

How To Be Happy is just so spot on with teenage and young adult emotions and reactions. The author, David, discusses various topics which a confronting and overwhelming for people, but David pulls off this 'circle of trust' and just discusses life in a casual and relatable way.

The book features very serious themes which aren't talked about openly and publicly such as sex, depression, self harm, sexuality and so much more. But David writes about these topics subtly so everyone can understand and eventually becoming comfortable in discussing the topic further. The memoir should easily become another addition to school curricula because of how David tackles these topics with ease assuring kids that life will get better and you will find out who 'you' are. 

Most of the topics within the book have stigma associated with it, especially the mental illness, Depression. Now, I know alot of people who have... and had... depression. This is probably why I really loved the book because of the way David approaches it. I definitely recommend this book to teens who are well, trying to find a way to be happy because it's never too late for someone to be reminded that they're amazing, beautiful, special and are worth more than the eye can see.

Another topic which the book focuses on is sexuality.

... I also had an insatiable curiosity about the male body. The question came again. Am I gay? 
How To Be Happy tackles the confusion of sexual identity by retelling David's story of his own journey of trying to find himself. I found this very intriguing and just interesting on how he tried to work out who he was. Was he really 'Gay Dave'? The confusion of his sexual identity also lead to the talk of gender fluidity. 
... a young man sits with his female friend. He's desperately confused. Uncertain of his preferences, desires, or standing in society, he concludes the scene with a bewildering realisation: 'I think I'm a lesbian.' wait. Can men be lesbians?
I loved how David talked about this in a whole chapter, 'Fluids'. I also love the brief descriptions throughout the book of gender fluidity letting readers understand the topic in more detail.

Lastly, my favourite chapters were 'How to Survive Grade 12' & 'Getting out of Bed'. David speaks the truth, within these chapters assuring kids like myself to not get stressed over your finals marks because

They may help you get into a university in the months immediately following your secondary graduation, but that's about all their good for. 

David also basically tells you that you can decide to be whoever you want to be. Here's a snippet of the text.
 'Okay, David. Let's have a look.' I gave her the sheet. 'Okay, now I see you've put down theatre for the first two options, but that's going to be terribly difficult to find a job in, isn't it? So I think law will be best. Your grades are excellent. Here we go.' She produced a red pen and, right in front of me, crossed out the theatre options on the page. I nodded warmly. 'Thanks so much,' I said 'You're very right.' I walked out of the room and threw the paper in the bin. Stupid b*tch. There was no way I was doing anything but theatre now. 

Even though I'm graduating in practically 8 weeks, these chapters have helped alot. Deep down, I wish the book had been released a year earlier so I could really conquer grade 12.

The Verdict:

I don't know if you can tell, but this review is extremely long, which only means one thing. How To Be Happy is easily a five star book, because it's just full of honesty and humour through the eyes of a growing teenager. This book will honestly help anyone who's having trouble in life right now. I just can't fathom my love for this book into words. You all need to read it.

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Bye for now xoxo
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