Friday, September 18, 2015

How to be Happy by David Burton...

Publish date- August 26th, 2015.
Publisher- Text Publishing.
RRP- $19.99 (AUD)

Review time...

(A Brief) Synopsis:
A YA memoir about a guy growing up, what it's like to have depression and not know how to get through each day, discovering sexuality and navigating the world.

Thanks to Text Publishing for this review copy!
Image source: Text Publishing.

What I thought:
So this is going to be really difficult to review. Take Chiara's review and give it only 1 kitty and basically that is how I felt.

But I can't write just that as a review, huh?
So. I'm going to listify it to try and get my thoughts down best-

1. David Burton is a real person who wrote a memoir- this- about his youthhood. All I know is I did not get along with the person who the story was about. He came across as arrogant, oblivious and cruel. He made choices I couldn't stand by and did a lot of things that made me mad, and I didn't like that.

2. The sexuality element, which is supposed to be a focus, is unclearly defined and brushed off by the end by not even being mentioned. It feels like it's gay or straight and the way bisexuality is is so often shown as being a cheaters option in everyday life angers me enough. Bisexuality, here, is mentioned in an "I didn't think of it" way- but did you later? We don't find out.

3. In high school he's he only friend of a boy with a form of Asbergers. This friendship is fairly well abandoned as Dave finds other friends, yet he says he was still kind to Ray. Immediately following this? Seriously, a couple of sentences later: a scene where he bullied him. That angers me so intently I may very well boil over. THAT is not kindness. You were his only friend and you turned on him for no reason.

4. Calling, mentally or otherwise, people bitches? That is not on. You just entered Romi's rage territory, folks. Sure, her actions weren't right, but tell the woman instead of smiling and internally cussing.

5. Really unhealthy, obsessive love- it was super uncomfortable.

6. Acting... like a faggot? The only acceptible notion here is that you were pretending to be kindling, but I'm thinking that's not what was meant.

Rating: This is the worst possible time for an explosion.
I was offended, I was angered, I definitely didn't feel Happy at any time, nor did I get an answer- or steps- as to the way of being happy. I was insatiably furied.


  1. This might not be a "nice 5 star review", but I have to say that I found it quite interesting and funny. It's like. . ."How To Be Happy" made you anything but THAT, and that's just not ok. Anyway, I feel you, I hate it when a book leaves you hanging with a lot of stuff unexplained and so on. Hope you find a better book next time, Romi! :D

    ~L. @ Reading Against Time ♥

    1. Well, I'm glad, Lili! I used to really hate writing negaitve reviews because I didn't want to cause offense, and seriously? It'd be better, I thought, if I just loved every book. But these days I'm not bothered by it- it can be fun as writing a review full of passion and love, and it helps get my annoyances off my chest.

  2. What first strikes me about this one though is how real it actually is. Most teen boys go through phases where they're horrid. I remember back when I was a teen and even words like faggot were thrown around as freely as using someone's name. What decade is it set in? I'm assuming the author is probably my age (in his thirties) to be able to look back on his teen years. Non fiction is so difficult to review, especially when it reads like fiction. His teen 'character' sounds really confrontational to be honest and most of us wouldn't have been saints in our teen years, but I was never cruel just because I could be. I assumed this was more so an exploration of sexuality and finding your feet as a preadult. I'm sorry you had a difficult time with this one Romi, it doesn't sound like my cup of tea now either. Wonderful review nonetheless <3 <3

    1. Hmm, well I don't have much experience with that, Kelly, but I don't know that I'd agree- not in all cases. I really hope that some people- many, even- understand their actions enough to not be nasty people. And I mean, for those who don't it's not even only guys- girls can be really horrible. Nastiness, in it's ways, is universal, I suppose.
      Aahm... the 80s, I think, leading up to now. It all read very "current" for me, though.
      I'd actually be really interested to see your thoughts after having read it and seeing for yourself, rather than simply going by my review, how you took the contents. I think it would make for a really interesting discussion, although I understand not being interested any longer! Thank you so much for your thoughtful and thought-provoking comment. xx

  3. EURGH THIS BOOK. Obviously I agree with you on this one, Romi, because it was not a great experience. I was actually at a writer's festival about two weeks ago where the author was talking, and I kind of wanted to ask him some questions - especially about the complete lack of any kind of self discovery or closure when it came to his sexuality.

    I was also really not a fan of how he was so cruel to Ron, and also extremely patronising. I felt like he didn't have much clarity as to how his actions influenced the guy (as was made apparent at the end of year camp thing when Dave was all: oh, but there was nothing I could do now. So sad, too bad).

    I hope if we ever pick up another YA memoir, that is is one we both like! <3

    1. A not great experience is right, sadly, but hey- we rallied for it and we read it and we reviewed it honestly. Not much else we could've done. It would be so much easier to address that if it were fiction, huh? I'd feel kinda incredibly awkward about asking questions that, I guess, are private to me, but at the same time... he did write a book all about it. So perhaps it's evidently less private in this case. How come you didn't?

      No. Bullying hits such a hard spot for me and that attitude of complete incomprehension, of saying he was still kind to him and then being absolutely awful, it isn't acceptable to me. It was one of the things I really couldn't deal with.

      Definitely! We shall keep trying, I'm sure. xx

  4. Okay, I definitely realised that I would not be giving this book a try when I learned that he had a friend with Asperger's, then ditched him and later bullied him. I have a sister with a physical disease and trust me, when you have some problems already going on that surround that, the last thing you need is a hard time in school and people making it worse. Won't be reading this one... pretty much ever.

    1. Oh, I can understand how that would have affected your decision on this one, Olivia. And I totally get that- it's the same in all cases, I think, or at least most. It's not like, just because it doesn't affect the person who does it, it doesn't affect the person or people who are left behind. You can assume or decide how much someone else needed you or how important your friendship was. That's not something that can be decided by anyone but the person who feels it.


Thank you so much for reading my post and, if you care to, commenting! It means a lot to me that you have thoughts on this thing (whatever it may be), too, and want to share them.

Please note, however, that nothing hurtful will be tolerated.

Have a beautiful day.x