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Happyface Hardcover – March 1, 2010
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From School Library Journal
Grade 7–10—Happyface is a shy, artistic sophomore, awkwardly coping with life from the sidelines. When horrific tragedy tears his family apart, he finds himself living in a ratty apartment with his newly sober mom and attending a new high school. Bottling up his grief and fear, he pastes a big smile on his face and makes a fresh start as the class clown. It works for a while and, surrounded by popular friends who know nothing of his real story, Happyface pursues the enigmatic Gretchen, struggling to interpret her mixed signals. Inevitably, the suppressed inner feelings build until Happyface blows up, finally giving him the chance to come clean and make an authentically fresh start without hiding behind a mask. Emond tells the story via the teen's illustrated journal, authentically capturing his up-and-down emotions. The pencil-and-ink sketches, comics, and doodles, paired with a disastrously small handwriting font, lend an intimate stream-of-consciousness feel to a story by turns funny, wrenching, quirky, and redemptive.—Joyce Adams Burner, National Archives at Kansas City, MO
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
[star] "Comic artist Emond (Emo Boy) pens an endearing and self-deprecatingly witty debut novel à la illustrated diary...The illustrations range from comics to more fleshed-out drawings. Just like Happyface's writing, they can be whimsical, thoughtful, boyishly sarcastic, off-the-cuff, or achingly beautiful.―Publishers Weekly, starred review
[star] "Moving easily between cartoons and painterly black-and-white illustration, this epistolary novel of a young teen's reinvention of self is subtle and effective... Poignantly real journal entries, e-mails and chat sessions allow readers to see into Happyface's world... [an] engaging and absolutely heartfelt tale.―Kirkus, starred review
Top customer reviews
Again, I still did like how the protagonist was so honest. As a reader, you really came to understand why he did all the actions he did and why he tried to hide it behind a smile. In a way, it makes you think about how easy it could be to just pretend certain bad things in your life don't happen and just smile. Maybe eventually you'll be happy. I like how this book made me think that even though Happyface did not really learn much in the end. In my opinion anyway. I just feel like he did not make much progress on that front.
For all his flaws, I loved reading about Happyface. It was extremely fascinating to me and I could not stay away from the book for long no matter how much I needed to. I recommend this, just know what to expect.
-T.V and Book Addict
The main character, Happyface, has a sarcastic humor and is very insecure with his status. His older brother is the all American boy who is athletic, gets decent grades, and has many friends. He can do no wrong in the eyes of his parents. Of course, Happyface grows up in his brother's shadow. I noticed early on how Happyface would write a lot about not having any friends, and how he believed he needed to become more popular for Chloe to like him more. He moves to this new school, and he decides that he is going to reinvent himself as person. Happyface develops this theory that if he smiles all the time then more people will want to be around him, because everybody likes being around someone who is always happy. He becomes obsessed with the attention, and thirsts for the popularity that he has gained. He struggles with the fact that if he confronts the truth and just be himself he would be truly happy.
I despised the characters of Misty and Karma. They are sisters, and are friends with Gretchen who is Happyface's new love interest at the new school. When I first met Misty and Karma in the novel, I just felt something off with them. I knew if I met them in reality I wouldn't be able to trust them. Sure enough they stuck their noses into Happyface's past. They would ask him nonchalant questions about certain people or events right in front of everyone. They added a lot to the premise of the story, and were probably the main reason that Happyface had to eventually confront the truth. However, they just irritated me a boatload, and made me cringe whenever they opened their mouths.
Even though I gave this novel a rather low rating, I still encourage all of you out there to read it. This novel is a great example of how many people hide behind "masks" or smiles to run away from the truth. We all have these "masks." I know I have had several. The truth will always be there, and when we confront it we will then be truly happy. We don't have to conform to what society says we need to be in order to make friends. As long as we act like our unique selves, then we can find those true, sincere, and supportive friends that will be there for everything.