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Monday, December 18, 2017

How to be Happy by Eva Woods

Title: How to be Happy
Author: Eva Woods
Publisher: 10 October 2017 by Hachette Australia
Pages: 304 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: romance, contemporary, women's fiction, chick lit
My Rating: 4 crowns


Annie is at her lowest ever when she meets Polly, who has a brain tumour. Polly wants to make a difference before she goes, to prove to Annie that happiness is a habit and that Annie can be happy again.

After losing everything, Annie has given up on life. Then she meets colourful, positive Polly - who happens to have three months left to live. Polly sets Annie a challenge - can she learn to be happy over the next 100 days? Reluctantly swept up in Polly's world, Annie finds herself facing her worst nightmares. Roller Coasters. Dancing in fountains. Inspirational Pinterest quotes. It's all a world away from her safe, lonely life of boxsets and ready meals for one. At first she is jealous of Polly's rich, exotic life - her wealthy, creative family; her lively and cool friends; the places she's already travelled and the things she's experienced. She's even jealous of her handsome, slightly grouchy neurologist, Dr Max. But as the 100 days are ticked off - and Polly runs out of time - Annie learns that no one's life is perfect, but that everyone's is precious, and short.

My Thoughts

“What do you say? For the next one hundred days –if I make it that long–we’ll think of one happy thing every day, and write it down.”

There’s much to like and take away from this book. Inspired by “100 Happy Days” challenge the author presents a plethora of ways to become more appreciative and positive, whilst at the same time delivering a worthy tale. But at its core is the question: can you make yourself a happier person and become more joyful just by doing and taking note of the small things throughout the day? If nothing else this book is a strong reminder to take the short time we have to make the most of each and every day. Find joy in the little things.

“Life isn’t about avoiding the storm; it’s about learning to dance in the rain. Where’s your sense of adventure?”

This is a relatable story on many levels and it will most certainly pull at your heartstrings with a cast of characters that you are sure to identify with in some way - from family members, to a funny Greek roommate, to the staff at the hospital. The two main leads - Polly and Annie - both so paradoxically different, yet bought together at this tragic time and with so much to learn and offer each other and those around them.

“Have a good day, Annie Hebden. Or at least a slightly better one. Remember, if you want the rainbow, you have to put up with the rain.”

It’s not a happily ever after for obvious reasons, so it is confronting and challenging in some ways. However I really appreciated the humour the author brought to this sad tale. Blended amongst the heartache and tragedy are some really fun and witty moments that capture the true rollercoaster of a ride each person finds them self on. Eva Woods achieves the perfect balance, so one is not weighed down with adversity alone.

“It’s your fault anyway. Making me all forgiving and saint-like, like Mother Teresa in nylon slacks.”

I really recommend this book if you are looking for something a little bit different as it challenges you to look at life with fresh eyes and a different perspective. Small changes can make you feel better - even if it’s just sadness about your day-to-day life, right up to facing a life threatening disease.

“I spent all my time in the office, grumbled about the . . . commute, barely spoke to my husband or family, angsted about how many likes I had on . . . Instagram and what kind of face cream I should be buying. All that . . . rubbish. But you – I thought if you could start being happy, after all you’d been through, then it would be real. I’d know it was really possible to change things. To actually become . . . happy.”

I liked how the chapters have the days listed with the small thing to do to create happiness eg. Day Eighteen - make time to chat - and then the story gives the fictional example from the characters lives. Of course, circumstances do not miraculously alter, however, something simple like brightening your work desk can make you smile and then the ripple effect will begin.

“I learned the most from the way she approached her death. It was, quite simply, remarkable. She took most people’s worst nightmare – a diagnosis of terminal cancer – and turned it into a chance to be joyful, and productive, and change her own life, but even more than that, other people’s. And one of those people was me.”

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release

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