Friday, May 11, 2012

Review: Happy Families by Tanita S. Davis

Title: Happy Families
Author: Tanita S. Davis site
Format: eARC, 237 pages
Release Date: 5/8/2012
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (Random House)
Source: Netgalley
Challenges: Ebook Reading Challenge (hosted by Workaday Reads), Standalone Reading Challenge (hosted by Icey Books), and the Completely Contemp Challenge (hosted by Chick Loves Lit)

Teenage twins Ysabel and Justin Nicholas are lucky. Ysabel's jewelry designs have already caught the eyes of the art world and Justin's intelligence and drive are sure to gain him entrance into the most prestigious of colleges. They even like their parents. But their father has a secret—one that threatens to destroy the twins' happy family and life as they know it.

Over the course of spring break, Ysabel and Justin will be forced to come to terms with their dad's new life, but can they overcome their fears to piece together their happy family again?

Basic Summary:
Twins Ysabel and Justin had the perfect, happy, Christian family. But things change when their father is discovered to be transgender. Their father moves out of the house, and things fall apart. Ysabel and Justin are then forced to spend spring break with their father in an attempt to mend their broken family.

Justin and Ysabel’s narrative voices were too similar, they needed to be more differentiated. It was often hard to discern whose point of view I was reading. Neither character came off the page for me; they were both kind of bland and flat.

One of the highlights of the book for me was when Ysabel would do her torchwork. It was an art form I hadn’t ever heard of, and I thought it was really cool. The way it was described, I could perfectly picture it in my head. It totally made me want to learn to make glass beads.

Plot and Story:
What really had me interested to read Happy Families was the subject matter. YA fiction about transgender individuals and their families aren’t all that common. I really liked it for the first half of the book, but toward the end it got kind of strange.

The ending seemed to be both Ysabel and Justin deciding they were okay with their father, and then suddenly changing their minds over and over again. And I feel like there wasn’t a lot of closure in the ending either. Now, I don’t need things tied up in a tidy bow but there were a lot of things left up in the air. Such as what Justin planned to do about his girlfriend.

I really liked the premise of Happy Families, but it just didn’t come together for me.  The characters didn’t seem “real” enough. I liked the first half of the book, but it kind of went downhill from there.  Final verdict, 3 of 5 stars.

1 comment:

  1. Bummer that the characters didn't feel fleshed out enough for you. The premises sounds promising. Thanks for sharing this your thoughts Emma