With wry wit and boundless heart, Eva Woods delivers an unforgettable tale of celebrating triumphs great and small, seizing the day, and always remembering to live in the moment.
“It's simple, really. You're just meant to do one thing every day that makes you happy. Could be little things. Could be big. In fact, we're doing one right now…”
Annie Hebden is stuck. Stuck in her boring job, with her irritating roommate, in a life no thirty-five-year-old would want. But deep down, Annie is still mourning the terrible loss that tore a hole through the perfect existence she'd once taken for granted—and hiding away is safer than remembering what used to be. Until she meets the eccentric Polly Leonard.
Bright, bubbly, intrusive Polly is everything Annie doesn't want in a friend. But Polly is determined to finally wake Annie up to life. Because if recent events have taught Polly anything, it's that your time is too short to waste a single day—which is why she wants Annie to join her on a mission…
One hundred days. One hundred new ways to be happy. Annie's convinced it's impossible, but so is saying no to Polly. And on an unforgettable journey that will force her to open herself to new experiences—and perhaps even new love with the unlikeliest of men—Annie will slowly begin to realize that maybe, just maybe, there's still joy to be found in the world. But then it becomes clear that Polly's about to need her new friend more than ever…and Annie will have to decide once and for all whether letting others in is a risk worth taking.
"Simply irresistible!" -Library Journal
“A special book that will make you laugh through your tears with its heartfelt take on happiness and friendship.”—Amy E. Reichert, author of The Coincidence of Coconut Cake
Polly is thirty five years old and is terminally ill. Doctors have informed her that she only has 100 days left to live. Polly is determined to make the most of her remaining life and makes it a goal to find happiness every day. She soon befriends Annie who is tending to her mother at the hospital. Polly is enthusiastic and bubbly, while Annie is introverted and cautious.
Annie is also thirty five and is feeling overwhelmed since her mother developed dementia. She currently works at an unfulfilling job with coworkers that she dislikes. Annie has also lost touch with many friends after her divorce and is teetering on depression. Life seems as bleak as the dull apartment she shares with a random roommate. One day, Polly appears at Annie’s door step and recruits her to share her 100 days of happiness. Polly is determined to show Annie the value of simple living and a friendship develops.
Two former strangers learn from life’s imperfections and gain strength from each other. This story which should be sad develops into a moving adventure. This is a superb novel from Eva Woods.
It’s very rare for me to read a book that touches me on such a personal level, even if I relate to the characters in a major way or if the storyline reaches someplace deep inside my heart I don’t often feel truly moved and inspired by a book. I think this is one of those magical moments where I picked the perfect book at the right time, Something Like Happy was exactly the type of book I needed and I didn’t even realize it until I was done.
Woods was inspired by the 100 days of happy posts that we’ve all seen floating around social media and I’ll be the first to admit, sometimes I’ll roll my eyes at them. No ones life is that great every single day, right?! That’s not the point though, it’s about creating your own happiness by making small changes. The concept behind it is so simple yet so pure, can’t we all find something each day to bring us our own slice of happiness? It can be as easy as eating a piece of cake or doing something kind for a stranger. But these small things can truly change our outlook and make us happier, even if only a bit happier, right?! That’s what Polly thinks and if anyone has a reason to be angry and bitter it’s her. She’s thirty five and only has months to live but when she meets Annie she convinces her to join in her happiness project despite Annie being a very unwilling participant. Annie is at the lowest point of her own life and is angry and bitter and would prefer to stay that way. Once you find out why Annie is so broken it’s easy to understand her behavior. But Polly is persistent and before she knows it the two have actually become real, true friends.
The themes here are heavy, you have loss, grief, pain, heartache and much more. But this isn’t a depressing read, it’s truly uplifting and inspiring without being cheesy. Friendship is so important to this story and the relationship that blossoms between Annie and Polly is honest and beautiful. Polly especially oozes positivity but she’s not fake, she’s just making the most of the time she has left and it was a truly gorgeous thing to witness.
If I’m ever feeling down or throwing myself a pity party I’ll pick this book up again, it’s exactly what I need to read to quit feeling sorry for myself and embrace the life that I was given. It really gave me a new, fresh perspective and inspired me to celebrate the little things and to be truly grateful for all that I have. Happiness is a choice and though it may not always be an easy choice, it’s definitely a state of mind.
If you knew you only had 100 days to live how would you spend them? That is the case for Polly. She is determined to make the best use of each day. Colourful, flamboyant Polly meets up with Annie who feels hard pressed by life. She meets Polly in the hospital here she is visiting her mother who has dementia and no longer recognises her daughter. When these two come together it’s like trying to mix oil with water you’d think. But somehow Polly gets through to Annie and co-opts her into trying to find happiness in each day. Sometimes she even succeeds. But what about when Polly needs her friend Annie more than ever, will Annie bail? Or will she be there for Polly? This is a story about friendship, love, taking a risk and forgiveness. Polly is energetic, never seems to care what people think and is seemingly upbeat despite the prognosis of only having a 100 day life expectancy due to her growing tumour. Annie has pretty much shut herself off from people after being deeply hurt by those she loved. I can see where someone like Polly with her upbeat attitude and indefatigable personality could be wearing. But then so can someone who only ever sees the negative of everything, as Annie tends to do. And yet, the story works largely because the characters come across as real even if flawed. I really liked Doctor Max or Doctor McGrumpy as Polly calls him. Although there are definite moments of sadness, where you might need tissues, there are also moments brimming with laughter and life. Also perhaps it could be useful for the reader to focus on their own life and try and find things each day to be thankful for and happy about. An enjoyable read that takes the reader though a range of emotions.
SOMETHING LIKE HAPPY by Eva Woods is simply outstanding!!!!! This book broke me and no this is not an exaggeration - ask my husband who woke up suddenly to the sound of me wailing at 2 am, lol. This story sucked me in and made me care so deeply about the characters and pulled at my heartstrings from start to finish and I definitely went through a box of tissues as I read it, but it also made me laugh out loud, made me appreciate my life even more, and hammered home the point that life really is what you make of it.
Annie Hebden is caught in a monotonous routine of sadness, anger, and grief. And in fairness, after what has happened to her, I completely understood why. Having suffered a tremendous tragedy in her personal life, she now lives in a dirty old flat, works in a job that she detests, and now spends most of her time in hospital visiting her mum who has dementia. Life is hopeless and miserable and Annie cannot see past the darkness. That is until Polly pops suddenly into her life and refuses to leave - colourful, vibrant, optimistic Polly who has an inoperable tumour and is determined to make each day count. Armed with a plan for her one hundred days of happiness, where she must do something that will make her happy every day for the next one hundred days, Polly ropes Annie into her scheme too. Annie soon finds herself meeting new people, actually showering, and making more of an effort to re-enter the world of the living. With plenty of hilarious antics, Annie and Polly soon forge a friendship that will make your heart melt. But in order to fully embrace the happiness of now, Annie must face up to the heartache of her past, and with the days dwindling away, Polly must stand toe to toe with her own demons too...
Annie and Polly are just the best characters, and while I really loved the extended cast in this book, it is their relationship that really got to me. Both of these strong women are suffering in different ways, and together they find what they need to allow them to find the best in everything they can. Polly breathes life back into Annie's world and really wakes her up from her despair, while Annie is the straight-talking, honest, friend that Polly needs to get her through what is coming. While I cried my eyes out at parts of this story, this is by no means a depressing, morbid read, but rather a celebration of life with plenty of funny moments that made me laugh, and shows the importance of recognising hope and happiness in the smaller, more simpler things in life.
SOMETHING LIKE HAPPY by Eva Woods is everything I could wish for in a story that revels in living life in the moment and the importance of friendship. It was an absolute honour to read this book and I will make sure to take note every day of the small things that make me smile, for as Polly likes to say, "Happiness is a state of mind."
*I voluntarily reviewed this book on Netgalley.com
This was a definite 6 star read, but since Goodreads won't allow that (and I have to take off one star for God awful editing, proofing, formatting - which I can only hope is because it was an ARC), a 5 star it is.
This book was everyting - sad, happy, heart-breaking, hilarious, irreverant, joyous. You name the emotion, and this story contained it. It is a out friendship and love, selfishness and selflessness. It is about choosing to live a life that is large enough to contain all the emotions, so that in those moments that everything turns to shit, your life isn't so small that that is all you can see or feel.
And if I take nothing else away from this, it will be to remember that "There is no one like you on the whole planet, no one that has ever lived or ever will. There is not a single other person with your fingerprints, or with the memories you carry, no one with your blood beating in their veins. You are yourself, you are alive, and that is enough."
On the back cover of “Something Like Happy” is the alluring sentence: For fans of JoJo Moyes comes a moving tale of finding happiness in one hundred days. Well, that’s all I needed to pick-up this book. Indeed, author Eva Woods penned a “Moyes-esq” sort of novel.
Protagonist Annie Hebden is a surly curmudgeon who happens to cross paths with Polly Leonard in a hospital. The reader learns there are many reasons for Annie’s surly attitude. However, Polly, who only has three months to live because of her invasive brain tumor, which she named “Bob”, is effervescent and determined to live her last days as meaningful. Polly takes Annie on as a project. Polly wants to find out if one can train oneself to be happy. Annie wants no part of Polly and her project, but Polly is a force to be reckoned with. Annie begrudgingly agrees to attempt the project.
In her Author’s Notes, Woods says she was inspired by the “100 Happy Days” challenge. She admits to not being a naturally happy and positive person. She contemplated whether you could make yourself happy just by noticing happy things and thinking happy thoughts. She pondered: Can you really drag yourself up from ruin and become joyful?
This is a feel-good delightful novel with just a touch of romance. I’m not a fan of the romance genre and find it off-putting and distracting. Woods uses it as a catalyst for hope and compassion. There’s some sadness, but not “take to your bed” sadness. It’s an uplifting novel that inspires hope for the curmudgeon in all of us. I highly recommend it for those times you just want a happy, uplifting page-turning novel.
I wasn't the biggest fan of this book. I was hoping for a book that was really uplifting and would make me feel SOMETHING. Unfortunately, this one well fell flat to me.
I didn't find Polly inspiring and her message didn't really hit me very hard. Her message was a little contradictory at points. In the beginning of the book she tells Annie to write down something happy every day, even if it's small, but then later she tells her that she needs to do happy things that are bigger. I think it would have been a better message if she had stuck with the "small things" aspect because it's message would be more about appreciating the little, every day things in life that we take for granted. She was a fun, quirky character though and was probably the only shining light in the book. That's supposed to be the point though, so that was a job well done.
Annie seemed like a bit of a wet blanket. I understand in the beginning because she went through this horrible event, then had to deal with her husband and best friend on top of that, so I get her being depressed and all that. However, I don't feel like she changed all that much. Sure there were little moments here and there, but I didn't feel that profound Aha! moment. It just rang a little false to me.
Annie and Dr. Max's relationship baffled me. There was barely any description of Dr. Max in the beginning, so I was picturing him as a middle-aged, balding, overweight guy who looked constantly tired and bedraggled. Then, all of the sudden, Annie is attracted to him? Even putting that aside, there wasn't any chemistry between the two of them. They barely shared any real moments and their "almost" kiss didn't feel like an "almost" kiss, it felt more like two people weirdly staring at each other for an extended period of time. I honestly don't know what he was so upset about at the end because I wasn't reading any signals from him at all.
Like I said, this book was just missing something and the more I think about it the more I'm thinking it was just overall chemistry between every single character. Annie and Polly had okay chemistry, but everyone else, even their relationships with other people, felt disjointed. I was hoping for a feel good, super inspiring book and unfortunately all I got was a regular book. It falls into the "read it if you want to" category for me.
ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
I read this book, and recommended it to my book club, based on the stellar reviews. Unfortunately I will be the one bad review in this sea of happiness, as I absolutely hated this book. The writing style (or absolute lack of it, actually) sealed it for me from the beginning, but I finished it because I had recommended it and felt I owed it to my fellow book clubbers. Oy. I know I'm not a "light," chick-lit person, but I can get through it if necessary. I didn't feel anything for any of these characters, not one iota, since they were so cliche. Not even for the woman dying of cancer, which is pretty sad. The word that kept coming to me was "cardboard." Even the woman dying of cancer - how can a character dying of cancer not make you sad? Horrible writing, that's how. Never made me sad, all the stories were so contrived and the people so badly fleshed out. Oy, time I will never get back. If you want to read a sad book about a cancer patient and the lives they touch try "The Fault In Our Stars" and see what real writing looks like. The "funeral while I'm alive" idea was even copied from that book, one of the most touching scenes in a million touching scenes. Not saying "Fault" was perfect, but it was compelling, something this book was not.
In a world where many of us are feeling at odds for various reasons, this book is a reminder that it is important to stop and smell the roses. Something Like Happy is a novel that explores the idea that no matter what your circumstances, there is still joy to be found in the little things if you let them. Eva Woods has crafted a beautiful story that is relatable, humorous, and contains a cast of characters that will tug at your heartstrings.
At first glance, one might assume that this story is going to be one that tries to turn the characters’ lives around by putting on rose-coloured glasses. This book, however, is so much more than that. I just love how Woods has woven the 100 Happy Days Project into the novel because it perfectly shows how making small changes in your day-to-day life can help you feel better, if even for a moment. Whether you are working at a dead-end job or have a life-threatening disease, doing a small something for yourself, like Annie and Polly do, can help to lift your spirits. For example, Polly takes Annie out for a picnic lunch during the work day. Annie’s circumstances may not have changed, but it helps her to recharge and face the rest of her day.
The aspect that I love about this book the most is the humour that is found throughout the entire book. Even though there is a considerable amount of heartache in the plot, Woods manages to find a way to pop in some fun dialogue here and there. It really makes the story so easy to relate to and essentially takes you on a rollercoaster of emotions. One minute the reader will be laughing along and then the next, feeling overwhelmed with what the characters are dealing with.
There are many characters in this book that are so well-developed and interesting. Annie’s roommate, family members, and the doctors are side characters that all have quirky personalities and add to the flavour of the novel. Annie is one that readers will easily relate to, Polly, however is my absolute favourite. Polly is just so incredible and seems to be the life of the party, even though she is faced with so much adversity.
Something Like Happy is a book that I highly recommend to anyone looking for a book that is a little bit different, and gives you a fresh outlook on life. After reading this one, I was definitely inspired to make some small changes in my everyday routine. It really is important to try and see the world from a new perspective.
Check out http://abooklionshideaway.blogspot.in/ for more reviews. Something Like Happy is a beautiful story about characters you'll love, friendship and small joys in life. The novel also revolves around 100 Happy Days Project, I had never heard of it before, so it was an experience reading about that. It shows how you can find joy in small things in life.
Annie Hebden is miserable and Polly is set to enjoy and celebrate life in the 100 Happy Days Project Challenge. Miserable Annie of thirty-five years old thinks nothing can lift her spirits and Polly is the last person she needs right now, but soon Annie is challenged by Polly to take part in the 100 Happy Days Project with her and Polly shows her how to take joy from simple things. How doing small things for yourself can be positive.
On the other hand, Polly has a life threatening disease, but nothing stops Polly from being full of life, funny and happy. And in a way, Polly teaches Annie to live a little too. Both characters couldn't be more different and both of them suffer from different ways but still, their friendship works and they're powerful together. It could have been a depressing story as the plot goes but it wasn't. It was humorous despite the heavy emotions. It was an amazing emotional roller coaster ride filled with magnificent joyful moments. I loved getting to read about the other characters as well. The character development of these two is so well written, it's visible as you read further.
Annie and Polly are both interesting characters but I am guessing Polly is going to be favourite of many like me. This story shows how you can be at solace from small and simple things in life. It was a different kind of read for me, it was an amazing story and very uplifting.
*An ebook copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
Polly, an exhaustingly exuberant terminally-ill woman, crashes into the life of Annie, who is understandably broken & hopeless after the shocking loss of her baby and marriage. It’s hard to refrain from rolling your eyes at all the cliches of living life to the fullest as these women stumble through the next 100 days. But, it doesn’t matter ONE BIT. I adored both women and their stories, with my emotions ricocheting around every bend.
This was the perfect book to complete my GR reading challenge!
I knew I had to read this book when I read the cover and the plot to this story. What a wonderful book this was! Even though this is all about a young girl dying of cancer, she decides to live her final days working on the Hundred Happy Days Project. Polly is given 100 days to live so why not work on this project with her new friend Annie? It’s so beautifully written and there were times I could not put this book down. Highly recommend this to those wanting a “feel good” book despite a sad outcome to ones life. PS Have a Kleenex or two towards the end of the book
I picked this book up at the library this morning and started reading when I got home. Based on the cover I expected something sweet and funny but it was so much deeper than that. I couldn’t put it down until I’d finished the entire story. Something Like Happy is a lovely, life affirming, easy to read novel about how to make the best of your life, no matter what the circumstances.
Special thanks to Little Bird Publicity and Graydon House for sending me a copy of Something Like Happy in exchange for my honest review!
I have a bachelor's degree in English (Literature emphasis) and have taught high school English for almost twelve years now. I like to consider myself a bit of an expert in analyzing literature, and I also consider myself a very strong reader who is capable of comprehending difficult texts. My days are filled with discussions of Othello and Death of a Salesman and Heart of Darkness and reading as many modern AP-worthy books as possible in order to discover pieces of literature my students might read and enjoy...
As much as I love my job and the types of books I normally read, every now and then, I love to kick back with an adorable piece of chick lit and give my brain a bit of a break. However, that doesn't necessarily mean my heart is spared at all.
That was definitely the case with Something Like Happy by Eva Woods. Annie Hebden has hit rock bottom. She lost her baby, husband, best friend, and beautiful home within a span of a few short months, and soon after, her mother began losing her memory as a result of early onset dementia. While Annie's mother is hospitalized, Annie meets Polly, a cancer patient who only has a few months left to live. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, Polly has decided to give the "100 Happy Days" movement a try, and after meeting Annie and immediately seeing how unhappy she is, Polly essentially forces her to give it a try with her. As a result, Annie finds herself doing things she never would have done and meeting new people she never would have befriended before. Meanwhile, as Polly's health declines, Annie finds herself wondering what will happen to those whose lives Polly has touched once she is gone.
Going into a book like Something Like Happy, I knew I wouldn't be reading the next great American classic. I knew the book would feature plenty of classic tropes and its fair share of clichés. And that's exactly why I was desperate to read it. I didn't just WANT to read this book--I NEEDED to read it. I needed those tropes and clichés, and I needed an uplifting read. Although I adore women's fiction, I tend to stay away from chick lit for the most part because I find single, childless characters looking for love hard to relate to at this particular phase of my life. However, although Something Like Happy has some elements of chick lit, it's also focused on a main female character who was much more realistic and relatable to me. Annie is in her thirties, has been married and had a child, and has experienced several tragedies that have left her heartbroken and cynical. The book does not focus on her quest to find love (although there is a tiny bit of romance in the book), but it instead focuses on her quest to find happiness. I knew Something Like Happy would be a fairly quick read, leave me feeling more heart-warmed than heartbroken, and lift my spirits a bit from the little valley I seem to have settled in lately in my own journey to discovering happiness.
The cast of characters in Something Like Happy is absolutely wonderful. Annie is a very dynamic character, and the Annie at the beginning of the book and the Annie at the end are almost two completely different people. However, Woods has not written her shift as an overnight transformation. The path along the way was filled with several bumps, potholes, and dips, and she didn't leap into her friendship with Polly full of enthusiasm and optimism. Instead, readers are able to relate to Annie's cynical view of her life and the world while also understanding the depth of her unhappiness. Polly, although mostly joyful and well-loved by everyone she meets, is still shown to have several of her own flaws, and her relationships with those around her are far from perfect. In addition, Woods introduces readers to Dr. Max and Dr. Quarani, who each have their own distinct personalities and important roles in the plot, but their characters also highlight issues within England's National Health Service and the unrest in Syria. I personally adored Costas, Annie's roommate, and by the end of the book, I also found myself quite attached to Polly's brother, George.
Throughout the book, Polly and Annie definitely get into some outlandish situations, and some of them are a bit of a stretch in terms of being realistic, but those situations add to the charm of this delightful book. Polly is like a modern-day Lucy Ricardo, if Lucy had a terminal illness, and Annie is her (more bitter) version of Ethel Mertz. Their banter throughout the book is entertaining, but their conversations and adventures also highlight profound lessons about making the most of our lives.
My only wish for this book is that it had found a way to tastefully address the idea that the power of positive thinking is not always enough for some people who have serious issues with depression. Although it worked out well for Polly and Annie, others require the assistance of medication...like me. My battle with depression lasted for several years before I sought medical intervention, and during those years, deciding to be happy did nothing to fix the chemical imbalance in my brain. Only once I realized that I needed something more did I finally begin to feel like myself again.
Overall, Something Like Happy was a delightful read, although it was filled was plenty of moments of heartache, and it was the exact book that I needed to read at this particular moment in my life. It's also one of the most aesthetically beautiful books I have seen in a long time, and I'm looking forward to seeing more books from the newly launched Graydon House Books. Eva Woods's writing is lyrical and fun, and I'm interested to see if her crime fiction (written as Claire McGowan) is just as lovely.
If you're looking for something that might encourage you to take a different approach to life while entertaining you with a lovely plot, give Something Like Happy a try!
Damn, Something Like Happy is a seriously emotional read.
I’ll be completely honest by admitting I went into this one a little bit tentative. The notion of the book was intriguing, but I find books dealing with the topics included in this one can be a bit hit or miss. Mainly it was the #100HappyDays social media phenomenon that had me a bit worried. My idea of a social media phenomenon to follow is watching people make a fool of himself or herself through the ice bucket challenge or the cinnamon challenge. I’d heard of the #100HappyDays but I’d never really paid it much attention. It existed, but I wasn’t going to be taking part.
Then came Something Like Happy. The book is focused around the question of what you would do if you only have one hundred days left to live. A story contemplating happiness and suggesting you embrace life. Hence my tentatively. I sometimes fear these kinds of stories are going to try and sell you happiness. Far too many psychology lectures have left me doubtful of self-help books, and I feared this book would err on the side of being a self-help book dressed as a fiction novel.
Fortunately, my tentatively was misplaced.
Something Like Happy is a truly beautiful novel. It sucked me in with just a few pages, and I was lost. I picked it up and I could not put it down. I needed more. I had to finish the story. I couldn’t wait to see what happened. Throughout, I was on an emotional rollercoaster. I’ve said this about a handful of books in my time, but this one really hit hard. There were genuine tears running down my face – the ugly, phlegmy sobs kind of crying – alongside laughter. It is the kind of book that has you laughing as the tears roll down your face. It really is such an emotional rollercoaster on so many levels.
It’s easy to understand why it’s such an emotional read. You can pick up books with heavy topics and they can fail to hit the right emotional spots. When you connect with the characters and their stories, when the book seems real, and the emotions are true to life, it is easy to be pulled into the emotional vortex. This one really pulls you in. Eva Woods was inspired to write Something Like Happy after surviving her own brush with cancer and the breakdown of her marriage, allowing deep emotions to be entombed in this story. You feel what the characters are feeling – you love, lose, and grow again right beside them. It’s an emotional journey that will make you feel. Feel good. Feel bad. Most importantly, feel alive.
Honestly, I could prattle on for hours about the emotional depth of this book. I know such will bore people however. Therefore, I’ll try to sum it up – you need to be prepared. You need to prepare yourself to feel so much, because you will feel everything.
Without a doubt, this one hit all the right spots. The book can be all kinds of emotional, but without the right storyline and characters, it can fall apart. Something Like Happy provides all: the emotional depth, the gripping storyline, the wonderful characters, and the beautiful writing that will keep you addicted throughout.
A very strong four star rating for this book, a book that will leave you feeling everything.
This book is so well-written and the characters are pretty great (plus 2 stars), but it was amazingly terrible anyway (minus 3 stars). How does an author manage that?
As a renowned PollyAnna, the premise is right up my alley. Polly and Annie -- get it? PollyAnna(ie) -- encounter one another when things aren't going well for either of them and Polly challenges Annie to a 100 day happiness quest. You know... like the ones on Facebook based on Positive Psychology. So far so good, right?
Then the author throws so much crap at this book that I couldn't catch my breath. You've heard of trigger warnings? This book would need a sticker for every topic. Death? Yes. Miscarriages? Yes. Dead baby? Yes. Cancer? Yes. Adultery? Yes. Dementia? Yes. Abandonment? Yes. Surprise family members? Yes. Domestic violence? Yes. War refugee? Sure. AIDS? Yes. Homelessness? Yes.
"You know how in class you're always telling us that writers make choices? ... it sort of reads in places like you didn't make any choices." -- Chabon, Wonder Boys
I almost threw it across the room when the first 25% of it was spent hinting -- drama-addicted-friend-vaguebook style -- at the awful stuff that happened. Little did I know that it would take the rest of the book to lay it all out and out and out and out.
„Sto dni szczęścia” to lektura, która uderza we wrażliwego czytelnika jak grom z jasnego nieba. Być może brzmi to nieco górnolotnie, ale w chwilach wielkiej smuty, kiedy dopada nas chandra, kiedy wydaje się, że gorzej być nie może, a za oknem na dokładkę roztopy, to proste przypomnienie o tym, co naprawdę ma znaczenie ma szansę przywołać na ziemię i dodać siły do działania. Bohaterki Evy Woods szczerze i z brytyjską swadą udowadniają, że nie trzeba medytować w Tybecie, by odnaleźć spokój. Nie trzeba kąpać się w pieniądzach, by wzbogacić się duchowo. Nie trzeba być gwiazdą filmową, by poczuć się dobrze sama ze sobą. To ważne, kiedy porywa nas wirtualny, nierealnie perfekcyjny, zerojedynkowy świat, by umieć spojrzeć na swoje życie i docenić małe, zwykłe chwile.
Annie has been dealt a really hard hand in life. She has lost her only child to cot death, and then her husband to her best friend. She has completely given up on life, spending her days wandering between her unfulfilling job to her lonely, shared apartment where she dines on ready meals for one in front of the TV.
One day, while visiting her mother, who has dementia, in hospital, she meets Polly, an upbeat, eccentric and charismatic young woman who has been diagnosed with cancer and given three months to live. Polly, hoping to make a difference in the lives of those she touches before she meets her end, challenges Annie to begin living her life again. Based on the social media-influenced project, 100 Days of Happiness, Polly encourages Annie to do things every day to reawaken her soul, from mending old wounds, making amends and facing her past, to taking up new hobbies, getting a makeover and opening herself up to things that frighten her. As Annie slowly starts to open up to Polly, she learns that not all lives are equal or fair, but they should still be lived.
How To Be Happy is a very sweet book. It's what I call 'popcorn for the brain' in that it's an easy but enjoyable read that would be best inhaled at the edge of a pool or curled up in front of the fire on a winter break. Calling it a 'vacation read' isn't a bad thing. Sure, the language or dialogue, at times, is a little simplistic and unnatural in places, and sometime it falls into the realm of being overly sympathetic. But overall it is a charming story that is wholly uplifting and positive, reminding us all to live each day to the fullest and, despite the darkness, to still look for the streaks of colour in the world.
Sidenote: There is one part in this book that did make me question it. In a scene where Annie is upset and hysterically crying, Dr. Max responds to her by saying, "Only dogs can hear you now", which is a line lifted straight out of Friends. Maybe only us millennials will notice it, those of us who grew up witnessing Ross and Rachel's drawn-out romantic drama, but it made me question the authenticity of the author's words. Not a huge deal, and not one that should deter anyone from reading this book, but I thought I would note it here.
Malo "Dok nisam srela tebe" Jojo Moyes, malo više "P.S. Volim te" Cecelie Ahern (a i autorica ovog romana odrasla je u Sjevernoj Irskoj), nešto lijepih životnih mudrosti koje svima trebaju, dosta zabavnih i tipično britanskih ekscentričnih likova, pa sve to zajedno čini ovaj roman vrlo dobrim.
"The thing about happiness, Annie--sometimes it’s in the contrasts. Hot bath on a cold day. Cool drink in the sun. That feeling when your car almost skids on the ice for a second and then you’re fine--it’s hard to really appreciate things unless you know what it’s like without them." ~Something Like Happy 🌼🏵🌼🏵 Finished this lovely audiobook recently - I enjoyed it so much! It's a story about Annie, a woman who has literally lost it all, and Polly, who is is determined to help Annie find joy again, even as she herself battles a tragic circumstance. So. Good. I needed this one, y'all. It was funny and serious, sad and hopeful, but above all a reminder to find something like happy in your life, even if it's one tiny thing each day. 🌼🏵🌼🏵 After listening to this book, I'm feeling the urge to dance in a fountain - if you've read it, you'll understand - however, as it's currently dark, windy, and 46 degrees in Kentucky, I will settle for suiting up with my daughter, hopping in the tub, and pretending to be mermaids. Go find a happy moment!!! (And pick up this book. 😊)
I was really intrigued by the inspiration for Eva Woods' new novel Something Like Happy. I hadn't heard about the #100happydays challenge before this. (You can find out more at the website and on Twitter.)
In Something Like Happy, we meet Annie - who is definitely not happy. Her mother is ill, she hates her job, lives in a grubby flat, her marriage has broken up and there's a tragedy in her past that has crippled her moving forward. A chance meeting with Polly, a woman who is dying, changes her life. Polly has been given three months to live - and she has decided to not to waste a single day or opportunity - and to touch and involve as many people as she can in feeling happy. Every day for 100 days.
"I don't want to just...go through the motions of dying. I want to really try and change things. I have to make some kind of mark, you see, before I disappear forever. I want to show it's possible to be happy and enjoy life even if things seem awful."
It's impossible not to like Polly as her enthusiasm is infectious. On the flip side, it's very hard to celebrate each day as she does, knowing that she literally has one hundred days left. Doubly hard if you know someone who is terminally ill. But the message at the heart of the book is important. We truly do need to find something or someone to enjoy every day - whatever that may be. Happy is different for everyone.
Annie was a great foil for Polly. When we meet her, she is grumpy, depressed and simply existing. And although the reader is pretty sure how things will progress, her 'transformation' is still a pleasure to follow. I enjoyed the supporting cast, especially Costas, Annie's lodger. Dr. McGrumpy is a close second. He's also the romantic lead in Something Like Happy.
Woods takes some literary license with some of her plotting. Many scenes and developments take place in the hospital. And in 'real life' many of them just wouldn't happen. (Such as sharing other patient's diagnosis with volunteers) As with the romance, these plotlines have the feel of a chick lit read.
Something Like Happy is a double edged read. On one hand it's a feel-good, inspirational read. On the other, it is tinged with sadness and will have the reader perhaps recalling loss in their own lives. But, I think the takeaway will be inspirational as well. Even if you don't formally participate in the challenge, the idea of finding something to be happy for every day is a worthwhile goal.
"The thing about happiness, Annie - sometimes it's in the contrasts. Hot bath on a cold day. Cool drink in the sun. That feeling when your car almost skids on the ice for a second and you're fine - it's hard to appreciate things unless you know what it's like without them.
Something Like Happy is the story of Annie Hebden and how her life changes when she meets the terminally ill Polly Leonard. Here are five reasons why I think you'll enjoy this one:
- You'll root for Annie. When we first meet Annie, she's at a low point in her life and has been there for awhile. She has a crappy job, a crappy apartment, and her mother has early onset Alzheimer's. Her husband left her for her best friend, and she also went through the terrible loss of her son. Even though she has every reason in the world to be unhappy, I still wanted her to find joy again. - You'll fall in love with Polly. Diagnosed with a brain tumor, Polly doesn't have much time left. Although she has sad moments, for the most part she is lively and vivacious, not wanting to waste a minute of her remaining days - and she wants the same for Annie. I think we can all relate to her desire to do something important with her life and leave a positive mark on the world. - You'll laugh AND cry. The characters all have their snarky moments, and there were some funny one-liners in there. But you all know I love a book that makes me cry, and this one definitely did. I was basically in tears for the last 50 pages of the book - both happy and sad ones. - You might be inspired to try your own 100 Happy Days Challenge. Eva Woods took inspiration from a real-life challenge for her book. Polly believes she has about 3 months left to live, so she embarks on this challenge to do one happy thing every day for 100 days. She recruits new friend, Annie, to help her find joy in living again. I love that the title of each chapter reflected what the characters were doing, but they can also act as suggestions for things we could all try, like "have a makeover" and "go outside." - You won't want to stop reading. Woods' writing is readable and approachable. I found myself swept up in the story, wanting to see what Polly would do next. I felt invested in all the characters, even the secondary ones. Even though the story is sad at times, I still felt hope.
Although the story isn't terribly original and there was at least one secondary plotline that I felt was unnecessary, there was still so much to love about this book. If you're looking for an emotional contemporary novel, try this one out.
I really liked this book. I listened to the audio book (narrated by Henrietta Meire) and it was fantastic! She is a great narrator and all the various characters came alive under her different inflections and accents - Dr. Max in his thick Scottish accent is my favorite, second only to Costis, Annie's Greek born flatmate. If you want to try this on audio book (helpful if you like me are commuting daily) I totally recommend this narration. Nothing is worse than a crappy narrator (well, there are worse things I suppose, but a robotic or dry narrator is always horrific when trying to get into a audio book).
The story itself is good. Chick lit but a leg up from chick lit - this book does deal with death and dying after all. I will admit, I found Polly INCREDIBLY annoying during the first seven or so chapters, even though I knew she had cancer and I shouldn't have felt like that. But she was so intrusive to Annie and so IN HER FACE about them becoming BFF's. But then, Polly's guard was let down and we got a chance to see more of her and who she really was and I felt myself, like Annie, drawn to her. And Annie, Annie was grumpy and guarded and so negative but there were multiple reasons she was like that and by the end of the novel I loved her more than I loved Polly. There were several times throughout this novel that she (or Polly) made me laugh or want to cry.
I really liked the friendship that developed between Annie and Polly, even when they got mad or frustrated with each other ("You can't keep waving cancer card at me!") because that is what happens in authentic friendships, you are 100% yourself even when it doesn't paint the best version of you. And both of them over the 100 days were not-so-great-versions-of-themselves and they both recognized and acknowledged that (even if it took a few days) which I really liked - it rang true to life. The side characters were great in here - from Dr. McGrumpy (aka Dr. Max), to George, Polly's younger brother to Annie's mom, etc. Everyone just leaped into life and really added to this story. Things were a bit predicable in here, especially the romantic plot line but I'd read more by this author. Heck, I'd re-read this again. It was a perfect diversion on my commute.
Thank you so much Little Bird Publicity and Graydon House for sending me a copy of this book to read and review. And thank you Eva Woods for writing a book that I absolutely needed to read, the timing was serendipitous.
I was meant to read this book. It has been such a long time since I read something and continually flagged pages and wrote in the margins, but this book was filled with so many “life lessons” I just knew I would want to revisit them many times. I laughed out loud (like on day 31) and I read through my tears over and over again throughout this book. All the while thinking – wow I wish I had a friend like Polly in my life – then realizing by the end of the book that anyone who reads this will take a bit of Polly with them afterwards.
I loved so many things about this story from the wonderful character development to the way each chapter started with what day it was and what the “happy” was for the day. I had never heard about the #100happydays challenge but after reading this it is something I would love to look into. I think so many of us have a bad day, week, month, year that we sometimes just cannot seem to see the good with the bad, in that way we can all relate to Annie on some level.
I just had to say one more thing… read the whole book. There are so many gems in there and Woods has strung them together so beautifully. Seriously from page 1 about pinpointing that precise moment when your life goes wrong – all the way to her note and acknowledgments.
I will close with one of the many quotes I marked and will carry with me …
“That’s what living is, I think. Letting it all in. The happy days, the sad days, the angry days. Being awake to it.”