by Dave Amaditz &
Welcome to October’s version of - First Friday - Five Favorite Things - Debut Novel Day. In this monthly series, we ask five simple questions about a debut novel that will hopefully entice anyone reading this post to pick up the novel and read it themselves, and/or give them at a glance some insight into the author's writing style and voice as well as how some of the characters might think or act. We do this by presenting, first, answers to our Five Favorite Things, followed by the author's answers in a follow-up post.
This month we're pleased to highlight debut YA novelist, Adam Silvera and his novel, More Happy Than Not. After his father’s suicide, Aaron Soto tries to find happiness again with the support of his girlfriend Genevieve and his Mom. But when he meets Thomas, he feels true happiness again and reveals his romantic feelings for Thomas. Since Aaron can’t hide from his feelings or his past, he turns to the Leteo Institute to alter his memories and make him straight.
1) What is your favorite line or paragraph from the novel as it relates to the main character's development and/or growth?
Dave – in this particular scene, Aaron turns to one of his favorite activities as a stress reliever because he does not feel he can talk to anyone.
I have something I want to talk about but it’s not the kind of talk I can just have with anyone. It has to be the right someone, but that right someone is the reason I need to talk in the first place. I draw instead because putting thought to page helps, it really does.
Marcy – This comes early on in the novel, but this insight by Aaron is compelling and thoughts like these will help him grow in to the character he becomes by the end of the story.
I have to push ahead with the people who don’t take the easy way out, who love me enough to stay alive even when life sucks. I trace the smiling scar, left to right and right to left, happy to have it as a reminder not to be such a dumbass again.
2) What is your favorite chapter ending or cliffhanger?
Dave - I chose this particular chapter ending because it’s at a particular part of the story where we the reader are finding out Aaron’s secret thoughts during a period of self reflection and discovery.
In my head, I play a round of One Truth and a Lie. I need Thomas to be happy. I need Genevieve to be happy. I can’t keep lying to myself about the truth.
Marcy – Terrific cliffhanger ending. I couldn’t turn the page fast enough.
There’s an explosion in the back of my head, a delayed reaction. Blood fills my mouth. This is what death feels like. I think. I scream like someone is turning a hundred knives inside of me, spitting up blood as I do. And I’m not crying because of the attack. I’m crying because there’s new noise in my head and it builds from a couple faded echoes into an uproar of jumbled voices – all the memories I once forgot have been unwound.
3) Who is your favorite secondary character and why?
Dave – I choose Thomas as my favorite secondary character. His self-confidence and calm nature allow Aaron to view life differently.
Marcy – There are many interesting characters, but Genevieve is probably my favorite. She is a constant in Aaron’s life and his rock. One of my favorite scenes is when they’re at a comic book store and Aaron doesn’t have enough money to pay for comic books.
She doesn’t even look at me when she reaches into her tote bag and pulls out a few bucks, which somehow makes me feel even worse. “How much is it?”
Gen, it’s fine, I don’t need these.”
She buys them anyway, hands me the bag, and starts talking to me about an idea for a painting, one where starving vultures chase shadows of the dead down this road, unaware the corpses are above their heads. I think it’s a cool enough idea. And as much as I want to thank her for the comics, her changing the subject so I didn’t have to feel shitty about myself was probably a better move.
4) What is your favorite line or paragraph of description?
Dave – I think this paints a vivid picture.
I’ve seen pictures of the Bronx district Leteo Institute before, but the unhappy rioters add an edge when seeing it up close. You’d think the Institute would look more futuristic, like the Apple store in Manhattan, but honestly, the Museum of Natural History looks more cutting-edge than Leteo does. The building is four floors high with bricks the color of ashes. Leteo is getting the bad rap of a good morgue with their body count. It’s still strange to me how hospitals never incite this sort of reaction when their guiltier of more cases of malpractice.
Marcy – There are many extraordinary lines in this novel. Here is one of my favorites.
From the shapes cast by the green paper lantern, you would never know that there were two boys sitting closely to one another trying to find themselves. You would only see shadows hugging, indiscriminate.
5) What is your favorite line of dialogue?
Dave – this line comes from the main character, Aaron.
“Maybe one day I’ll move away and send a postcard saying, ‘Hey, I like guys. Don’t worry, I never liked any of you because you all suck.’”
Marcy – This line comes from Aaron’s friend, Thomas.
“This is what I like about you, Stretch. You care about what happens to you. Everyone else seems resigned to grow up and become nobodies who are stuck here. They don’t dream. They don’t think about the future.”
To read more about Adam Silvera and his debut novel, More Happy Than not, please go to:
— Kids' Indie Next List "Top Ten" Pick (Spring 2015)
— ABA Indies Introduce Debut Authors and New Voices title
— A Junior Library Guild selection
— Publishers Weekly Spring 2015 Flying Start