Get Happy by Mary Amato should have been one of those feel-good, happy-family, coming-of-age stories that sticks with the reader and leaves them with a good feeling for the rest of the day. I mean, it has a ukulele on the cover! And a seahorse! I expected pure, light-hearted awesomeness...with maybe a dash of romance thrown in for good measure.
Instead, the book was an exercise in patience. For me, at least.
The story centers on teenage Minerva, a somewhat self-centered girl who seems to be forever whining about what she doesn't have. This latest have-not is the ukulele she wanted for her birthday, the one her mother didn't get for her even though she dropped many hints. Unwanted birthday gifts are a sore spot for Minerva...as is the fact her father walked out on her and her mother when Minerva was only a few years old and never attempted to contact them. At least, this is the story Minerva's mother is sticking to.
This reality shatters when Minerva intercepts a mysterious package that arrives for her, a package that (surprise, surprise) just happens to be from her father. A little investigation leads Minerva to discover that her mother has lied to her about everything. Including her father's name. And the fact that he and his new family don't live all that far away from Minerva. And that he's been trying to contact her for the past several years. Minerva makes it a mission to break the rules and confront her father--which she does (and very immaturely, I might add).
And the rest, as they say, is history.
Minerva is an unlikable character who experiences little to no growth throughout the book. She whines about things she doesn't have. She complains endlessly about her job (working as a costumed character doing birthday parties for children) and brings that negativity with her when she clocks in. She leaves mean, jealousy-fueled comments on the blog of a co-worker (who we eventually learn is her stepsister), who's only crime is being talented...albeit a little clueless about modesty. I felt awful and negative after spending so much time in Minerva's head, but I kept hoping for one of those 180 moments where the character sees the proverbial light and transforms into a wonderful, caring person.
Unfortunately, that didn't happen.
I honestly can't recommend this book to you and doubt I'd want to read anything else by the author, what with this being my first experience with one of her books.