There are few words to adequately describe how wonderful and poignantly written this book is. I can honestly say the book made me laugh, cry, and everything in between. Kittle weaves an excellent story while encompassing real problems real people face every single day. I could not put the book down and stayed up far past my bedtime reading it! (Don't tell my mom! ; ) ) Reasons to Be Happy is a refreshing read that puts a spin on the pressures of everyday society. It covers so many problems and carries the reader on Hannah's journey so perfectly that it became challenging at times to remember that the book is just a work of fiction.
As for content, I would recommend it for ages fifteen and up. Hannah's bulimia gets fairly graphic (even I felt queasy at a few points), the emotions penetrated and portrayed from her mother's death are for more mature teens, and her father's alcoholism can get a little rough for readers. Also, in one scene one boy tries to "feel up" Hannah at a pool party, though she quickly pushes him away. The book deals a lot with body image and being able to be comfortable with who you are and what you look like. There are very few, if any, swear words in Reasons to Be Happy.
Ms. Kittle has even inspired me to keep a little list of reasons to be happy, though the list is currently transcribed only in my head, not on paper!
If you or someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder, there is help out there for you and you are not alone. There are many teen hotlines available, as well as talking to a trusted adult. The National Crisis Line for Anorexia and Bulimia phone number is 1.800.233.4357. The National Eating Disorder Hotline phone number is 1.800.248.3285. More information and hotlines can be found by a simple Google search or on the extensive http://www.myjellybean.com/teen-hotlines/teen-hotlines. Eating disorders are serious diseases and can be fatal. The life you save could be one you love.
On the Shelf: Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon