LeGrand, Claire. Some Kind of Happiness
May 17th 2016 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline
Finley has never met her father's parents because of an unspoken rift, but when her parents are having marital problems, they decide to drop Finley off for the entire summer at the family estate. Finley's father has three sisters, who have children who like to spend time with their grandparents, which makes it a little less weird. Finley is a nervous child who copes with the world by writing fantasy tales of "Everwood" in a journal and imagining herself as the main character, an orphan girl. She is drawn to the woods on the family property because of its similarities to her imaginary world, but she is loathe at first to allow her cousins to learn about it, since they treat it (rightly so) as a "game". She uses it to bond with her cousins, however, and they have a great time outdoors, but they also make the acquaintance of the Bailey boys, and their grandparents tell them they are NOT to play with these boys. Over the course of the book, many family secrets come out, and Finley finally gets some professional help with her anxiety and depression.
Strengths: This was intriguing in an I Capture the Castle or Greengage Summer way. I think a lot of people want to be closer to their cousins, and spending the summer with grandparents in a big house always sounds like fun. There's a huge trend toward stories that deal with topics of mental health.
Weaknesses: There was enough going on without all of the stories of Everwood. Finley was one of those characters that I just didn't like because she was overly precious and annoyed me, which made it hard to get into the book. I felt like I was supposed to hate the grandmother, but she was my favorite character. I admired the way she hid what she hid, and how she soldiered on without whining about her lot, but these were made to seem like bad things.
What I really think: I'm sorry that Ms. LeGrand struggles with anxiety and depression, but this book just fell flat for me once Finley's eccentricities overshadowed the mystery and the family problems.