Some Kind of Happiness by Claire Legrand
Published by Harcourt, 2016
Genre: Children’s literature
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Re-readability: I’m not sure if I would revisit this one.
Reviewed by Indiana
Finley Hart has got a lot going on and most of it is all out of her control.
Her parents are on the rocks (and basically refuse to talk about it with her . . . not that she would really want to talk about it with them anyway). She’s being sent to live with her grandparents for the summer (who she has never met before and doesn’t know anything about).
The one place she can control is the Everwood.
It’s a world she’s created in her notebook, which she is always scribbling in. At first, the Everwood helps her befriend her cousins (of which there are many) and her mysterious new neighbors (who she has been instructed to not speak to).
But soon things come undone both inside and outside the Everwood and Finely must come to terms with why she created the world in the first place and figure out why her family was torn apart in the first place.
This was a solidly written children’s book. I really enjoyed getting to know Finley’s character, first as a shy girl who was trying to be brave and come to terms with her life being flipped upside down. And then as an adventurous wanderer who could spot a genuine person a mile away. I’m not sure I’ve ever read a children’s book where the protagonist has depression or anxiety (though I’m sure those narratives exist). I feel like those topics are usually reserved for young adult fiction and it was almost refreshing to see it discussed in a children’s book. Legrand even delves into therapy and getting treatment, which I can imagine may seem terrifying for many children reading the book.
Legrand was careful to weave the family mystery into the mystery of this clearly burnt and decrepit house that Finley and her cousins find at the start of the book. While hints are planted throughout the book as to how the house got to be in that state, she doesn’t quite make it clear until the end how it all ties back into the reason the Hart family were so splintered.
At face value, it seems like this book is comparable to The Bridge to Terabithia. But that doesn’t quite seem like a fair comparison, given all the other interesting elements that the book contains: mental illness, a mysterious house, a splintered family, etc. The Everwood is an important part of it, but it’s only one sliver.
What are some of your favorite children’s literature mysteries?