Happyface

HappyfaceHappyface
Released March 2010 by Little, Brown Books
Rating: Young Adults
320 pages (hardcover)

Purchase a copy at Amazon.com

Synopsis: Just put on a happy face!

Happyface didn’t start out as the funny, outgoing guy everyone loves. He was once that quiet kid in the corner. You know the type: artistic, shy, unsure. But then something terrible happens to his family, and he moves to a new town where he decides to start a new life. So, he slaps on a grin and becomes… Happyface! And for a while, it works. He finds a cool group of friends, starts hanging out with a cute girl, and for once, people laugh with him, not at him. But slapping on that grin is like slapping a bandage over his pain. Happyface can’t hide from his past forever, and, despite his grin, he’s not truly happy, at least not until he confronts his tragic past and learns to face the world with a genuine smile.

“Happyface is a moving look at how we hide ourselves, reinvent ourselves, and ultimately heal ourselves. Elegant and very real.” – Scott Westerfeld, New York Times bestselling author of the Uglies series and Leviathan

“Emond will put a smile on your face. Then a grimace, another smile, a wince, two more smiles, sort of a horrified stare. . . . He’s written a funny, honest, at times painfully familiar book.” – Adam Rex, New York Times bestselling author of Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich and The True Meaning of Smekday

“Like its main character, Happyface hides hope and heartache behind hilarious drawings and even funnier prose.” – Michael Buckley, New York Times bestselling author of The Sisters Grumm series and NERDS

“In Happyface, Emond combines the strengths of comics and prose to capture all the awkwardness and humor of adolescence.” – Hope Larson, author of Chiggers

Starred Reviews:

Publisher’s Weekly

“Comic artist Emond (Emo Boy) pens an endearing and self-deprecatingly witty debut novel à la illustrated diary that manifests the insecurities, longings, and trials of a recognizable brand of teenage male. The narrator–an introverted, artistically talented sophomore–is trying an ‘everything goes’ personality at his new school (he gets the nickname Happyface). The facade works. He makes a group of eclectic friends, including a possible love interest, but Happyface has skeletons in his closet: his parents’ collapsed relationship, how his former crush broke his heart, and the reason he switched schools–a gruesome secret readers don’t learn about until Happyface is emotionally able to write about it. Throughout, Happyface shares his grievances and hopes, but also feelings too scary to write about (illustrations come easier).

By the time his sketchbook’s full, readers will have a palpable sense of how much he’s grown and how painful–but worthwhile–the process was. The illustrations range from comics to more fleshed-out drawings. Just like Happyface’s writing, they can be whimsical, thoughtful, boyishly sarcastic, off-the-cuff, or achingly beautiful. The best exhibit hints of all of the above.”

Kirkus

“Moving easily between cartoons and painterly black-and-white illustration, this epistolary novel of a young teen’s reinvention of self is subtle and effective.

As he’s stuck in his brother’s shadow and in the middle of his alcoholic parents’ unhappy relationship, it’s little surprise that when the breakup of his family necessitates a move to a new school, the protagonist decides to become “Happyface.” Embracing lighthearted goofiness, he hopes to banish his former self’ an artistic loner. At first, this seems to work: He finds friends and dates a girl on whom he has nursed a long crush. Eventually, though, he must find a way to integrate his true self with this invented persona.

Poignantly real journal entries, e-mails and chat sessions allow readers to see into Happyface’s world, and many will identify with his yearning for supposed normalcy.

Though the catalyst for his metamorphosis is so understated that it’s possible some may miss it altogether and be a bit puzzled later in the story, this is a minor detail in an otherwise engaging and absolutely heartfelt tale.”

VOYA

“Reeling from a series of heartbreaks, our otherwise nameless hero resolves to adopt a new persona, ‘Happyface’ at his new school. That way they won’t see beyond his perpetual cheeriness to his parents’ divorce, or the twist involving his brother and Chloe, the girl he thought was out of his league. While keeping a journal, complete with sketches, Happyface tries to keep his past a secret and move on with his life, particularly with the studious, lovely Gretchen, who comes with her own baggage and a long line of ex-boyfriends.

Even when he is confused or his friends grow baffled by his self-imposed mysteries, Happyface tries to remain hidden, but Emond puts a well-spun story on display in more than one medium. Also writer of the graphic novel Emo Boy (SLG Publishing, 2006)/VOYA April 2007), he has mastered the voice of the awkward adolescent male. This could be a reference for anyone who has ever asked, ‘What do teen boys think’ Happyface’s journal is insightful, poignant, and hilarious, with illustrations bolstering an already strong voice and story about a character readers will come to love.

Happyface never emerges as more than a stick-figure head in his pictures, but readers don’t need to know what he looks like they need to understand how his heart works, and it’s laid bare here.”