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Hurt Go Happy Hardcover – August 8, 2006

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 14 years
  • Grade Level: 5 - 9
  • Lexile Measure: 870L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Starscape; 1st edition (August 8, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765314428
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765314420
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.8 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,393,263 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 6-9–Joey Willis is deaf, and her mother won't allow her to learn American Sign Language. Her isolated existence is turned upside down, however, when she meets her elderly neighbor, Dr. Charles Mansell, and his sign-language-using chimpanzee, Sukari. Against her mother's wishes, Joey begins to learn to sign, and Charlie, whose parents were deaf, opens her eyes to a future filled with possibilities. When he dies, Sukari's fate is left in Joey's hands. Rorby has clearly done her research. From the dialogue gaps that allow youngsters to share the frustration even a skilled lip reader feels, to a brutal scene in a chimp-filled research facility, the wealth of details support but, unfortunately, often overwhelm the story. The tale is so dense that many plot threads are abruptly abandoned, and the narrative skips ahead at random intervals. Laden with issues–parent-child relationships, the treatment of research animals, and child abuse (Joey's deafness is the result of a beating by her father)–the book often gets bogged down in its own seriousness. However, the writing shines when Rorby focuses on what is obviously her true passion: Sukari and the fate of chimpanzees like her.–Kathleen Kelly MacMillan, Carroll County Public Library, MD
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"Readers will dive right into this affecting first novel….Believable characters, convincingly portrayed relationships, a deeply moving plot and a wealth of intimate details…combine to make this debut a real winner."--Starred review, Publishers Weekly on Dolphin Sky

"[A] distinctive voice and well-developed characterization, a beautifully-evoked setting, and an emotionally satisfying conclusion."--Kirkus Reviews on Dolphin Sky

"The characters are sensitively drawn….the issue of animal rights is provocatively and emotionally discussed."--School Library Journal on Dolphin Sky

More About the Author

I was raised in Winter Park, Florida, where we lived on a lake. I think it was a Purple gallinule who sparked my interest in wildlife and eventually my love of all animals with the exception of palmetto bugs (big roaches.) Purple gallinules look a little like coots, but are purplish blue, have yellow legs, long toes and a beak the color of candy corn. This one, named Big Foot, came back every summer for five years, padding in and out of our kitchen at will for handouts. After high school and a failed attempt at being a bank teller, I moved to Miami and went to work as a flight attendant for National Airlines. In 1980, Pan American Airways bought that company and I worked for them for another 9 years. About midway through my flying career I came to my senses and realized that if I was ever going to do anything else, I needed an education. At age 33, I enrolled in the University of Miami to pursue an undergraduate degree in biology, specializing in ornithology--the study of birds. It was an accidental encounter with an abandoned dog that launched my 'writing career.' After taking eight years to finish my undergraduate studies, I went to graduate school and received an MFA in Creative Writing from Florida International University. My goal then became to move someplace where I would never be hot again. I now live on the chilly coast of northern California with my thirty-year-old parrot and way too many cats. I share my three-acre, forested space, as graciously as I can, with skunks, possums, raccoons, an occasional black bear and a mountain lion. A single (and I hope it stays that way) Little Brown bat has lived in the rafters of bathroom for the last five years sleeping (thankfully) directly above the sink. I wouldn't want to hurt my parrot's feelings, but I think my favorite pet of all time was an albino Red Rat snake named Rosie. If I could come back as an animal I would like to return as a Turkey vulture. Some one else kills your food for you and the rest of the time you get to ride thermals of warm air with your friends. Being a bird and flying with friends, what more could one ask for?

Customer Reviews

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it to everyone, whether they like to read or not.
Sara Jones
Can I tell you how many "good" books I've read this year that'll make kids' eyes glaze over before they reach page three?
E. R. Bird
Hurt Go Happy written and researched by Ginny Rorby is a powerful story that will intrigue animal lovers.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Drama/English teacher on July 20, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
As an eighth-grade English teacher, I read young adult novels in hopes of finding a piece of writing that I can offer to my students -- one that they will enjoy, learn from, find easily, and connect to whatever else I am teaching at the time. I will admit that I don't read as many books as I should, but I do a lot of research on the prospective books in advance by reading reviews from others (thanks, Amazon!), so I can use my limited reading time wisely.

HURT GO HAPPY came to me as one of Florida's 2008-2009 Sunshine State recommended texts for students in grades 6 through 8. Researching these fifteen titles to find the couple of diamonds among them requires the use of feedback from Amazon reviewers, and this book came with glowing recommendations.

I was worried by the description that this book would be one of those formulaic, teen adventures, in this case with a deaf girl trying to save a chimpanzee -- NOT what I would call a genre I was giving much hope to. Luckily, these other reviews dispelled that dread, giving me hope that there was something more to this interestingly titled piece.

As an English and Drama teacher, I have to admit that my favorite part of what I teach is the subject of Theme (not as in "essay," or "recurring motif," but "the lessons, morals and wisdom a story has to offer"). I embrace books that come to their themes honestly, creatively and passionately. The greatest works offer themes that sink so deep into our minds, hearts and souls that we cannot remove these lessons from ourselves, no matter how hard we try.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on December 12, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I am 13 years old and I have read a lot of books. My english teachers always try to find new books for me that I haven't read, but so far they have come up empty handed. In all the books that I have read, I have never had a favorite book before. Until now. Hurt-Go-Happy is my all time favorite book. I read it over and over and I never get tired of it. This book had inspired me to do something about animal testing. It also showed me the hardships of being deaf. When you read this book you find yourself crying along with Joey the main character, and laughing with her. I love this book, and I hope you will experience as much joy as I did when you read this book.

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Sorella on August 11, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Joey Willis, a deaf teenage girl, has been misunderstood since the age of seven. Her mother, Ruth, feels responsible for the accident, and doesn't allow Joey to learn sign language. Unable to communicate easily with classmates and family, she relies on Ruth as a translator-- even though she secretly longs to learn. When she meets her neighbors, Dr. Charles (Charlie) Mansell and Sukari the signing chimp, her will to learn sign language becomes stronger under Charlie's vehement encouragement.

This book had me from the beginning, front cover to back. As with all good books I've read, I found myself lost in the pages. Each character was believable, and easy to relate with. The character I was most intriugued by, however, was Sukari. The signing chimp has a way of drawing you in, and by the end of the book, it was hard to believe she didn't exist.

I learned very much about life in this book, and things I might not have known so well if I hadn't read it. The treatment of the chimps still makes me furious, and I understand better the ordeals that deaf people may have to deal with. This is a book that has touched me, and I won't easily forget it.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on September 17, 2006
Format: Hardcover
There are children's books that are enjoyable. There are children's books that stay in your mind long after you've read them. And there are children's books that contain excellent writing in terms of story layout, themes, and rock solid emotions. You are lucky if you can get a combination of two of these requirements. You are blessed beyond words if you somehow manage to find a book that fulfills all three. Pick up a copy of "Hurt Go Happy" and you can actually tick off these requirements one by one as you read the first chapter alone. Funny, horrifying, intelligent, and full of more twists and turns than you could hope to expect, "Hurt Go Happy" is without a doubt one of the strongest children's books of the year.

Joey wasn't always deaf, but at the age of thirteen she has been for seven years. Things wouldn't be so bad either if not for the fact that her mother is overprotective towards her and refuses to let Joey learn American Sign Language. Depending on reading lips only, Joey feels isolated from the world around her. That is, until she meet Sukari and Charlie. Charlie's an elderly caregiver to Sukari, a chimp with a knowledge of sign language. Instantly Joey bonds with the two, in spite of her mother's disapproval, and her world begins to grow larger as a result. Yet when Charlie dies and Sukari ends up in the hands of a research lab that tests pesticides on animals, it seems the only person who can save her is a nearly deaf girl who isn't sure she has the strength to go it alone.

Now, to be blunt with you, this doesn't really sound like a book that I would have enjoyed reading. I was never one of those kids that thought monkeys and apes were fascinating creatures. Yet as an author, Rorby wins you over.
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