Some Kind of Happiness

384p. ebook available. S. & S. May 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781442466012.
Gr 4–7—A multilayered plot, engaging characters, and more than one mystery highlight this ambitious novel. Eleven-year-old Finley spends a summer with her grandparents and a swarm of other relatives from her father's side of the family. Suffering from depression which is amplified by her parents' likely divorce, Finley escapes through writing. She creates elaborate tales about the magical Everwood forest, featuring herself as "the orphan girl." Everwood tales, neatly inserted into the narrative, parallel her own worries and triumphs. Exploring the real forest near her grandparents' home brings her hope; so do new friendships with her cousins and a trio of wild neighbor boys. As she defies her grandparents and tries to keep her debilitating "blue days" a secret, Finley also discovers family secrets from the past. She narrates most of the story in first person, present tense, with short paragraphs, formal language, and careful observation that establish her as an astute, intelligent, and very interesting protagonist. Finley inserts lists that help her make sense of things, along with frequent parenthetical asides that reveal her continual self-doubts. Multiple supporting characters are well drawn, becoming further developed as Finley learns more about each one. The central mystery, involving a fire, takes a while to resolve, but it's really Finley and her developing relationships with her extended family members that resonate most strongly.
VERDICT Though the measured pace and mix of narrative styles will challenge some readers, Legrand successfully weaves it all into a rich, nuanced tale that culminates in a convincing and satisfying conclusion.

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