THINGS FINLEY HART DOESN’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT
• Her parents, who are having problems. (But they pretend like they’re not.)
• Being sent to her grandparents’ house for the summer.
• Never having met said grandparents.
• Her blue days—when life feels overwhelming, and it’s hard to keep her head up. (This happens a lot.)
Finley’s only retreat is the Everwood, a forest kingdom that exists in the pages of her notebook. Until she discovers the endless woods behind her grandparents’ house and realizes the Everwood is real–and holds more mysteries than she’d ever imagined, including a family of pirates that she isn’t allowed to talk to, trees covered in ash, and a strange old wizard living in a house made of bones.
With the help of her cousins, Finley sets out on a mission to save the dying Everwood and uncover its secrets. But as the mysteries pile up and the frightening sadness inside her grows, Finley realizes that if she wants to save the Everwood, she’ll first have to save herself.
Some Kind of Happiness is, by far, my favorite middle-grade book I have ever read. I find most middle-grade stories to be flat and predictable, which is understandable because they are geared towards a younger audience. But with Some Kind of Happiness, Legrand delivers a powerful story with layered characters and a deep concept.
Beneath these trees, I feel the same way I have always felt when opening my notebook to a clean page:
As long as I am here, I am safe.
Our main character Finley is a dreamer. She writes stories of the Everwood, and in these stories, she feels herself. She feels safe. In the outside world, even with her very own parents, Finely doesn’t feel like she fits in. When they begin having problems and send them to her father’s parent’s house, she can’t help but feel like it’s her fault. That she is this smudge on the family. Those feelings only increase when she moves into the Hart house with her perfect grandparents, aunts and cousins.
I must keep myself held tightly together, straight up and down, like someone has stuffed me into a too-small bag and zipped me up.
If I move too much, or say even one word, the zipper will burst open and I will fall out.
No one wants to see that.
Finley was my favorite character. She is a wise eleven-year-old who has a fascination with crossword puzzles and unique words. She loves to learn and explore, to believe in magic. But no matter how Finley tried to distract herself, she couldn’t escape her blue days and the Dark Ones—in other words, anxiety and depression. Anxiety and depression are often discussed in later ages, so it was refreshing to have these topics explored within a younger character.
I don’t have clinical depression (though I have experienced some deep, dark lows), but I have had issues with anxiety (and most likely will continue to). So when Finley was describing these feelings—the weight on her chest, the rising panic, the dark thoughts, how it felt like no matter how hard she tried, she was lost at sea, drowning—I started getting emotional, because I knew exactly what she was going through.
When I lose myself, my insides become a storming sea in which it is very easy to get lost. Even something as simple as breathing feels difficult.
But on days like today, the sea is tame, and I hardly feel heavy at all.
(Why can’t every day be like this?)
Now I have to applaud Legrand on this. Her writing style is absolutely stunning. She has this effortless way of weaving words together to create a powerful punch with only a few short sentences. She created such lush scenery that I truly felt as though I was somewhere else. And the way she made her characters so uniquely individual and gave them all of these fascinating layers—it was magic. It was haunting without being too sad. Sweet without being too cheesy. It was this perfect melody that I couldn’t get enough of.
I search for the proper word to describe the expression on his face: Adoring. Soft. Bashful. Nervous.
None of those quite work; his expression is all of those things at once, and more.
The best way to describe it is this:
Mom and Dad used to look at each other like that.
What? I’m not crying. YOU’RE crying. No, but really, I almost cried several times while reading this.
Some Kind of Happiness is a beautiful, moving story about family, love and the importance of self-love and self-health. This is not your typical middle-grade book. This novel explores important issues in an ethereal light that is both beautiful and chilling. By the time you flip the last page, you will feel like a new person.
Well this easily has to be one of my favorites of the year, or perhaps even of all-time. Some Kind of Happiness is up there with Tiger Lily, which is saying A LOT. I highly recommend you lovelies give this novel a read and let me know what you think!