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Book Review: Get Happy by Mary Amato

Publisher’s Description:

In this poignant, realistic, contemporary YA by a state master list star, perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen and Gayle Forman, a young songwriter builds a substitute family with her friends in place of the broken family she grew up with.

A hip high school girl who loves music, writes songs, and is desperate for a ukulele, learns to her shock that her father did not abandon her years ago and has been trying to keep in touch. She begins to investigate him, only to discover that he has a new life with a new family, including the perfect stepdaughter, a girl who Minerva despises.

Karen’s Thoughts:

For as long as she can remember it has always been Minerva and her mother. And Minerva has but one wish – a ukulele. To make that wish come true, Minerva and her best friend get a job at the Get Happy birthday entertainment company (because her mom doesn’t understand her at all and got her another crappy cardigan for her 16th birthday – bad mom). Their job: To dress as various characters where they will sing songs and lead party games at kid parties. It is not Minerva’s dream job, but it does put cash in hand. The job is a source of much amusement and brings some very interesting people into Minerva’s life.

It turns out, however, that Minerva’s dad didn’t abandon her. He has, in fact, been trying to get in touch with her for some time. And it turns out that he is closer than she ever could have imagined. So while Minerva is trying to survive kid parties, she’s also trying to deal with a host of big emotions including the fact that her mom lied to her and then comes the major kaboom – who her dad is and the new family that he has built for himself.

Add to this mix one of the best friendships ever (I adore Fin) and a budding romance, and you have a YA title that is sure to please many, particularly the fans of authors like Gayle Forman. One of the best things about Amato is that not only does she combine music with her stories, but she writes stories that are accessible to the younger end of YA and the upper MG crowd who want to read YA but their parents may still be a little worried about the language and sex content. 

Ukelele’s are all the rage right now. In fact, the Portland Public Library now has a Ukulele lending library, which you can read about here and here. So Amato’s book would seem to have perfect timing. Add to this the fact that it has characters that resonate, very real and challenging family dynamics, and a situation that really makes you wonder about the nature of family and forgiveness, and I think we have a winner here. The ending really left me thinking about what would happen next, the different ways that could look and what I thought could and should happen. If your readers are like me, they’ll have strong feelings about it all and they’ll want to discuss, making this a perfect book discussion title.

Some song lyrics and chords are included. Definitely recommended.

Get Happy by Mary Amato will be released by EgmontUSA on October 28, 2014. ISBN: 9781606845226

More on Books, Music, Teens and Libraries
More Books and Music Here, Here, and Here
Also, check out Heather Booth’s post on What the Ukulele Taught Me about Reluctant Readers
Mary Amato previously wrote a guest post for us here at TLT on Bringing Music into Your Library
And check out how you can make Guitar Pick Jewelry
Goodreads has a list of 288 titles tagged “Music”

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

Video reveal for Mary Amato’s GET HAPPY

Mary Amato (author of Guitar Notes) has a new YA coming out on October 28 – Get Happy – about a 16-year-old singer-songwriter named Minerva who is desperate for a ukulele. The story also chronicles Minerva’s painful journey to decide whether or not to reconnect with a father who left her when she was a toddler. As with her previous book Guitar Notes, Amato has written words and music for the songs that appear in the book for readers to enjoy. This time, she teamed up with young performing artist Jamey Geston ( http://www.jameygestonmusic.com/) who is recording videos of the six songs in preparation for the book’s release.

Here’s the video reveal of the song Geston just recorded. This song, called Salt, expresses Minerva’s pent-up anger at her long-lost father, a marine biologist, who wants to reconnect.

The Luna ukulele that Geston is playing in this video will be offered as a giveaway through Amato’s site. Stay tuned for the book, the music, and more at Amato’s site: www.thrumsociety.com and/or through twitter @maryamato.
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpQfXNbL12c?rel=0]
About Get Happy:

In this poignant, realistic, contemporary YA by a state master list star, perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen and Gayle Forman, a young songwriter builds a substitute family with her friends in place of the broken family she grew up with.

A hip high school girl who loves music, writes songs, and is desperate for a ukulele, learns to her shock that her father did not abandon her years ago and has been trying to keep in touch. She begins to investigate him, only to discover that he has a new life with a new family, including the perfect stepdaughter, a girl who Minerva despises.

Coming in October from EgmontUSA. Book description from publisher.

Take 5: New Titles Coming from EgmontUSA

Get Happy by Mary Amato

Publisher’s Description: In this poignant, realistic, contemporary YA by a state master list star, perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen and Gayle Forman, a young songwriter builds a substitute family with her friends in place of the broken family she grew up with.

A hip high school girl who loves music, writes songs, and is desperate for a ukelele, learns to her shock that her father did not abandon her years ago and has been trying to keep in touch. She begins to investigate him, only to discover that he has a new life with a new family, including the perfect stepdaughter, a girl who Minerva despises

Karen’s Thoughts: I simply love and adore Guitar Notes so I am very much looking forward to reading this. Plus, you can’t go wrong with a title that mentions Sarah Dessen and understands how glorious she is.

Publishes October 2014. ISBN: 978-1-60684-522-6

BZRK Apocalypse by Michael Grant

Brief Synopsis: A war is raging at the nano level as a group headed by evil geniuses tries to get control of nanotechnology and politics to create a world that fits their idea of utopia. Teens are being enlisted for their gaming ability to control the nanotechnology but now they have to figure out what side is the good side, or at least the less bad side, and see if they can stop the war before madness sets in.

Karen’s Thoughts:  This is a really good, thrilling series that reminds me a lot of Michael Crichton. I’m looking forward to reading the conclusion.

Publishes May 8, 2014. ISBN: 9781405263467

Tabula Rasa by Kristen Lippert-Martin

Publisher’s Description: The Bourne Identity meets Divergent in this heart-pounding debut.

Sixteen-year-old Sarah has a rare chance at a new life. Or so the doctors tell her. She’s been undergoing a cutting-edge procedure that will render her a tabula rasa—a blank slate. Memory by memory her troubled past is being taken away.

But when her final surgery is interrupted and a team of elite soldiers invades the isolated hospital under cover of a massive blizzard, her fresh start could be her end.

Navigating familiar halls that have become a dangerous maze with the help of a teen computer hacker who’s trying to bring the hospital down for his own reasons, Sarah starts to piece together who she is and why someone would want her erased. And she won’t be silenced again.

A high-stakes thriller featuring a non-stop race for survival and a smart heroine who will risk everything, Tabula Rasa is, in short, unforgettable.

Karen’s Thoughts: You just read the part where it said “The Bourne Identity meets Divergent” right? Yeah, sign me up for that. Also, I’m all in for a female Bourne.

Publishes September 2014. ISBN: 978-1-60684-518-9

Amity by Micol Ostow

Publisher’s Description: For fans of Stephen King and American Horror Story, a gruesome thriller suggested by the events of the Amityville Horror.

Inspired by a true-crime story of supernatural happenings and gory murders, Amity spans two generations and beyond to weave an overlapping, interconnected tale of terror, insanity, danger, and death.

Karen’s Thoughts: The cover, the subject matter – teens (and me) are always looking for more horror and this coming out in the fall sounds like a no brainer. Plus, they recently announced they would be making another Amityville movie starring Disney star Bella Thorne. Should have some high interest.

Publishes August 2014. ISBN: 978-1-60684-156-3

Of Monsters and Madness by Jessica Verday

Publisher’s Description: A romantic, historical retelling of classic Gothic horror featuring Edgar Allan Poe and his character Annabel Lee, from a New York Times best-selling author.

Summoned to her father’s home in 1820’s Philadelphia, a girl finds herself in the midst of a rash of gruesome murders in which he might be implicated. She is torn romantically between her father’s assistants-one kind and proper, one mysterious and brooding-who share a dark secret and may have more to do with the violent events than they’re letting on.

Karen’s Thoughts: Look, I used my high school graduation money to buy the complete works of Poe, so I’m all over this. Here’s a look at some more YA lit inspired by Poe  

Publishes September 2014. ISBN: 978-1-60684-463-2 

Edited on 4/02/2014 because I had the UK version of the BZRK Apocalypse book up. The one you see now is the U.S. version.