Published by Createspace Independent Pub on March 25, 2014
Genres: Bullying, contemporary, Emotions & Feelings, Social Issues, Young Adult
Source: ecopy from Author
When Cassidy Diamond is admitted to a prestigious summer program at Stanford University, she looks forward to being surrounded by people just like herself: smart, studious, and antisocial. But when Cassidy is assigned to stay with the Harper family and meets their vivacious and uninhibited daughter Grace, the two girls clash at first sight. Cassidy is determined to not let Grace distract her from her studies, while Grace wants to show Cassidy that maybe her grades aren't all she has going for her, and that life might be about more than building the perfect resume.
Never Trust a Happy Song is a standalone young adult contemporary/realistic fiction novel that deals with the surface and below the surface two very different teenage girls face. Though one or two aspects of this story didn’t 100% agree with me, I liked the overall story progression and theme. And I thought the story ended in a nice place. (although where was Cassidy’s mother. She was coming up to visit with her and then poof nothing. The story ended and there was no mention of her.) This is not necessarily a happy book, but it is the journey of two 15 year old girls. When you look at Grace and Cassidy, you couldn’t find two girls that seemed further apart.
Cassidy is ALL about school and studying and basically entering the rat race as a tween. It is all she has known. Which wouldn’t bug me at all, if that had been her choice. But she didn’t even seem to have a helping hand in picking the direction of her future. This led me to my main issue with the story. And I will admit up front that it was an intentional decision on the part of the author to portray Cassidy this way. I get it and I get what it did to progress the story. But Cassidy seemed kind of hollow and robotic. I liked her- I did, but what bugged me was at first I couldn’t figure out whether Cassidy just loved studying and school or if she was pressured into studying all the time and it wasn’t really something she enjoyed.
And let me explain why this is important for me to distinguish. Because I think the things and pressures that Natalie Bina described to the extreme do very much so exist in the world today. It is getting harder and harder to get into college, into grad school, to find a good job. I know all of these things. Kids are having to prepare for their “future” earlier and earlier in life. Whether that is good or bad or right or wrong is not something I want to comment on, but it does exist. So if Cassidy loved school and wanted to do all these things for herself then I wouldn’t care that she seemed robotic. She was doing what she liked, and I don’t think that point is what the author got across. That if the teenager decided that they wanted these high aspirations for themselves that is ok too. But it is more problematic when it is forced upon them. That was the main focus of the story. Cassidy didn’t know anything about being a kid or a teen.
That turned out to be a longer explanation that I thought it would be. Suffice it to say that this book is not a light and fluffy contemporary. Cassidy and Grace each have different issues, but past that, I love the journey and the influences they each were on the other when they came into one another’s lives. Watching them interact and disagree was the real magic of the story for me. I liked Never Trust a Happy Song for Cassidy and Grace’s friendship. I thought that was the winning theme of the book, and seeing the two of them together is worth a read. This book really is something different. It is not like many other YA contemporaries. Fans of realistic fiction will enjoy this book. There is no romance in this story at all, which is also something different than most YA, but it was absolutely fitting for the story. It was something totally different than what I was expecting, and I like it when a book can take me by surprise like this one did.
Never trust a happy song was released in 2013, but the author has recently released a paperback version of the book, and the ebook version will be getting a new cover! (which I LOVE)
The ebook is now available for pre-order through Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Amazon! It is currently only $1.99, but that is for a limited time only! When it is released on March 14th, 2015, the price will go up to $2.99. All of the pre-order links can be found on my Bublish author profile.
NatalieBina’s Bublish profile (Which contains all of the buy links): https://www.bublish.com/
*Note: If you have not checked out Bublish yet, you should! Bublish is a wonderful site that allows authors to give insights on sections of their books to connect with their audience. How cool is that?
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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
Glad this at least ended in a nice place and you were happy with it.
Michelle @ Book Briefs
Yea it did. I was happy about that too, even if I did go back and forth with this one a little.
this is the first I’ve come across this author/book and I thank you for the honest review. Definitely going to keep my eye out but since our tastes run similarly I might have to borrrow this one 🙂
I’m so glad that you’ve come across my work! I hope you are able to get a copy of the story and read it yourself. If you have any questions or thoughts about the experiences of Cassidy and Grace, or the themes touched on in the book, don’t hesitate to contact me! I am always open to chat 🙂
Michelle @ Book Briefs
If you try this one Erin, come back and let me know what you think 🙂 I am interested to get other people’s opinions on this one since I haven’t seen other reviews for it.
Oh man, just three stars? I was really drawn to the book. I like the point you raise about if the studying is something loved or something forced upon a kid, because they really are two different things. Part of me wonders if that point is left up to the reader, like how you have to interpret the classics in English courses. Or maybe it’s left that way so future readers will have a better shot at relating to it. More and more studying is needed to get into a good college, so it could become even more hated among schoolkids than it is now (and their parents force them into it for their futures), or maybe they learn to love it. That’s what’s a shame with so many books, songs, tv shows/movies – there’s content that will really date it as time goes by.
What was your overall verdict? I’m having a hard time telling if you would pick this book again if, say, you do a feature in the future as like a flashback. Or is it a ‘once is enough’ novel? That stuff 🙂
I agree that studying forced upon a teen is different from studying for the love of learning itself. Some students are self-motivated to study really hard and some have it forced upon them by their parents, school, or friends. However, sometimes teens convince themselves that they love studying because that is easier than resisting the pressure to buckle down. This could later turn into a true love of studying (this was my experience in high school). Or, after a year or two of high-pressure academics, a teen might not be able to imagine any other way of life. I believe it is a truly complicated issue – especially, as you pointed out, with getting into a good college becoming harder every year. I understand that it could be hard to know how much of Cassidy’s motivation is internal and how much is due to external pressures, and I think it is important to remember that sometimes even the student doesn’t truly know. I hope you get to read the book yourself, and I would be interested to hear which side you think Cassidy is on!
Michelle @ Book Briefs
Well since this is a standalone book, I probably wouldn’t read it again, but I am glad that I read it once.
I am kind of glad there is no romance in this one, because it does seem fitting to not have any, and I like the idea of it being so. I think it is an interesting and realistic problem to have as the theme. I can understand why the distinction not being clear enough was an issue.
It was very important to me that Never Trust a Happy Song not feature any romance. I am in no way against romance – it can be a great aspect of a story’s message and a key component of the characters’ journeys. However, this story’s message focuses on just one girl – Cassidy – and how she sees and interacts with people who are different from her. … In terms of the distinction not seeming clear, it is very interesting how different readers come away with different opinions regarding where Cassidy stands on the issue! I hadn’t thought of Cassidy’s relationship with studying as being a “leave it to the reader” situation, and I am fascinated by all the different interpretations that readers are offering.
Michelle @ Book Briefs
I completely agree. I think it was perfect that this book didn’t have any romance, and that is very rare for me to say!