'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Friday 25 October 2019

Review: As Happy As Here

Three damaged girls share a hospital ward together. They see a crime being committed. Should they or shouldn’t they tell? And if not, why not? These are the bricks that build this interesting novel containing multiple themes.

Evie is an athletic teenager that shows great promise in competitive running. 

When she is hit by a piano that rolls out of a truck, her legs and life are shattered. Also shattered are her parent’s dreams for her future which they had all mapped out. 

Evie and each other person in the story are forced to come to terms with what they face.

Lucy is being treated for cancer. Her mother has died and she is everything to her father. 

When the resentful and cruel Jemma joins the group, she brings with her heavy emotional baggage that is vented on her ward mates through her attitude toward them.

From her window, Evie sees something mysterious going on in the park opposite the hospital. What is hidden in the newspaper wrapped in plastic? One placement and a pick-up cause Evie to share what she sees with the other girls. Curiosity gets the better of them and this sets off a series of events that put their lives at risk.

This is an interesting mystery that interweaves the emotions, behaviours and attitudes of the three girls. Jemma is the stand-out character here. Why doesn’t she want Evie to tell anyone about what’s happening in the park? What is she hiding?

Jane Godwin has produced a well-crafted mystery with strong personal interaction between the girls as the spark that lights up the story. Jemma is the character you love to hate and that makes the reader grind their teeth, hoping to see her get her comeuppance.

The novel reflects on how a person’s upbringing shapes their life and the degree that shaping can reach. It’s also about coming of age, and change and acceptance of the differences in people. This is all bound together in an engaging novel with an unexpected climax, equally as shattering as the events that bring the girls together.

Title: As Happy As Here
Author: Jane Goodwin
Publisher: Hachette, $16.99
Publication Date: August 2019
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9780734419231
For ages: 12+
Type: Middle Grade Fiction