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Reasons to Be Happy
Cover of Reasons to Be Happy
Reasons to Be Happy
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"Gripping! I was instantly swept away by Hannah's struggles and greatly inspired by her journey. This is a powerful book, and I recommend it for anyone who has ever worried about how to fit in."...
"Gripping! I was instantly swept away by Hannah's struggles and greatly inspired by her journey. This is a powerful book, and I recommend it for anyone who has ever worried about how to fit in."...
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  • "Gripping! I was instantly swept away by Hannah's struggles and greatly inspired by her journey. This is a powerful book, and I recommend it for anyone who has ever worried about how to fit in."
    -Kristina McBride, author of The Tension of Opposites

    REASONS TO BE HAPPY

    21. Cat purr vibrating through your skin
    22. Jumping on a trampoline in the rain
    23. Raw cookie dough
    24. Getting yourself all freaked out after a scary movie
    25. Dancing like an idiot when no one is watching

    What happened to the girl who wrote those things? I miss that girl. She used to be bold and fun. Now she's a big chicken loser.
    How could so much change so fast?
    Let's see, you could be the plain Jane daughter of two gorgeous famous people, move to a new school, have no real friends, and your mom could get sick, and, oh yeah, you could have the most embarrassing secret in the world.
    Yep, that about does it.
    So, the real question is, how do I get that girl back?

    Praise for The Blessings of the Animals:
    "With subtle yet shimmering insight, Kittle explores the resilience of human nature."
    -Booklist

    Praise for The Kindness of Strangers:
    "Kittle crafts a disturbing but compelling story...gripping read."-Publishers Weekly

Excerpts-

  • From the book Reasons to Be Happy:
    1. Swimming with dolphins
    2. Outrunning a forest f ire
    3. A hot air balloon ride
    4. Seeing a shark fin while surfing but making it back to the shore intact
    5. Hiking by moonlight
    I used to be brave.
    What happened to the girl who wrote those things? The girl who left the house that morning all excited about her f irst day of eighth grade at a new school? That girl who got up way too early and flipped through her sequined purple notebook where she keeps a list of things that are good in life- things like:
    20. The smell of Band-Aids
    21. Cat purr vibrating through your skin
    22. Hiking with Dad up on Arroyo Seco and seeing a mountain lion at dusk
    23. Vampires
    24. Playing with the rubbery residue after you let glue dry on your f ingers
    How could so much change so fast in just one day?
    Scratch that. Stupid question. Besides, it wasn't really a day. It was a summer. How could they change so fast over one summer? Let's see, you could move to a new school, be totally humiliated, have no real friends, and oh, yeah, your mom could get cancer.
    Yep, that about does it. That would explain the changes. So, the harder question is: how do I get that girl back? That girl who saw so many reasons to be happy that she started to keep a list:
    6. Making lists
    7. Jumping on a trampoline in the rain
    8. Ghost stories
    9. Painting your toenails
    10. Winning a race
    11. Dark chocolate melting in your mouth
    12. Pad thai so spicy hot it makes your nose run
    I missed that girl. She used to be bold and fun. Then she became a big chicken loser. "There goes Hannah," Aunt Izzy used to say (okay, her name is really Isabelle but everyone calls her Izzy), "jumping in with both feet."
    Aunt Izzy is my mom's sister. She lives in Ohio (where she and my mom grew up) in a funky purple house in this hippie town called Yellow Springs (Aunt Izzy's purple house is reason #28 on the list). Aunt Izzy makes documentary f ilms. I know, I know, documentary f ilms sound boring, but she makes good ones. Her last one won an Academy Award. My mom and dad are actors. They've never won Academy Awards, even though both of them have been nominated. They make their living in feature f ilms, which is why we live all the way in Los Angeles now.
    Aunt Izzy said I "jumped in with both feet" like it was a compliment, like it was good and brave. (Which reminds me, running hurdles when you hit your stride just right is #56.) My mom, though, said I jump in with both feet like it's a very, very bad thing. "You don't have any fear," she said with this look of exasperation. But that was before I became afraid of everything. I hesitated too long before I jumped. I waited, paralyzed, thinking of all the bad things that could happen,
    until the moment was gone. It was like, once I stopped risking, I lost the ability.
    Like that day, my disaster of a f irst day-I hesitated too long. I let the wrong things gain momentum and there was no way to stop the avalanche.

Reviews-

  • Kirkus

    September 15, 2011

    This frank tale follows a girl's journey of healing as she recovers from an eating disorder.

    Hannah's actor parents' rising-star status necessitates relocating from Ohio to the epicenter of celebrity life: LA. At her new school, Hannah encounters the B-Squad—the reigning trio of eighth-grade girls, who sit in judgment on all things hip. Suddenly, all that Hannah loves to do—running track, her art work—is deemed uncool. In the wake of this upheaval and the devastating news of her mother's terminal-cancer diagnosis, Hannah turns to her Secret Remedy—bulimia. Kittle scrutinizes how negative peer opinion can wreak havoc on a young teen's fragile self-esteem. Her sometimes graphically detailed and unflinching portrayal of bulimia explores the insidious way it can overtake a person's life both physically and emotionally. When Hannah's illness spirals out of control, Aunt Izzy, a documentary filmmaker and recovered anorexic, intervenes. Izzy takes Hannah to Africa, where she is documenting the plight of the country's orphans. Through her travels and experiences, Hannah gains a new perspective on the notion of beauty and friendship. The rather contrived healing and happy ending do not undercut the emotional intensity of Hannah's journey.

    With a forthright intensity, Kittle's tale examines a complex subject. (Fiction. 13-16)

    (COPYRIGHT (2011) KIRKUS REVIEWS/NIELSEN BUSINESS MEDIA, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)

  • School Library Journal

    December 1, 2011

    Gr 6-8-Hannah used to have many reasons to be happy; so many, in fact, that she kept an ongoing list. That was before she moved to a new school and before her mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Hannah's new circle is not what she envisioned; the mean-girl clique disdains her two passions, running and art. Overwhelmed by her unhappy school situation, her mother's illness, and her belief that she is extremely ordinary compared to her Academy Award-nominated actor parents, the eighth grader becomes bulimic. Her initial weight loss is praised by her unsuspecting parents and her crush, but Hannah finds it increasingly difficult to purge. With many aspects of life spiraling out of control, she accompanies her aunt, a documentary filmmaker, to Ghana, where she somewhat predictably yet touchingly has a life-changing experience. Although there are many issues at play in this novel, they are all realistically drawn. Only toward the end of the story, with the addition of the Academy Awards presentation, do the multiple dramas threaten to overwhelm it. Subplots involving a clique member with a mentally challenged brother and another with cutting issues are underdeveloped. The tension and conflict between Hannah and her father is palpable. Bulimia's emotional toll is honestly portrayed, with authentically rendered scenes involving frenetic binging, purging, and food theft. With minor shortcomings, this is an honest and open story of overcoming enormous challenges. While Hannah's struggles are not over, readers can believe that she has an excellent chance of overcoming her traumas.-Jennifer Schultz, Fauquier County Public Library, Warrenton, VA

    Copyright 2011 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kristina McBride, author of The Tension of Opposites "Gripping! I was instantly swept away by Hannah's struggles and greatly inspired by her journey. This is a powerful book, and I recommend it for anyone who has ever worried about how to fit in."

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