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Have a Nice Day by Julie Halpern

After spending the last three weeks in a mental hospital, Anna Bloom isn’t quite sure where she fits in the real world. At school, her friends and teachers are all dying to know what happened but won’t ask, and Anna herself is afraid to volunteer information, lest she be labeled as the crazy girl. At home, things are worse than ever between Anna’s parents, and she can’t help but wonder if it’s all because of her. And at her former mental hospital, well, who knows what’s going on since Anna can’t work up the nerve to write to her crush and maybe-boyfriend Justin. All Anna wants is for things to go back to normal, but she’s not so sure that she knows what normal is anymore. But with a little help from her friends, both old and new, Anna is starting to figure out how to be, if not normal, then totally okay.

I read Get Well Soon almost five years ago, and while I enjoyed it then, I unfortunately barely remember anything now about the story except in generalities. Luckily for me, though its sequel Have a Nice Day picks up almost immediately after Get Well Soon leaves off, Halpern weaves in just enough information about Anna’s hospital stint that old readers who haven’t refreshed their memories as well as new readers won’t be confused. I have to admit that this time around, though, it took me a little bit longer to adjust to Anna’s voice, perhaps because I’ve changed as a reader in these five years while almost no time has passed for Anna at all; as a result, some of her reactions, particularly to her parents, seemed just so petty to me. Despite this, her voice and character did grow on me, especially as she started to grow as a person, and I was ultimately thoroughly invested in Anna’s life and her attempts to figure out her new normal. In all, Have a Nice Day is a completely enjoyable and, with only a few exceptions, satisfying read.

Fans of Get Well Soon will enjoy its sequel in Have a Nice Day, as will readers who also enjoyed Purge by Sarah Darer Littman and Suicide Notes by Michael Thomas Ford.

Rating: 4.25

Review copies from publisher Macmillan and ALA

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