BREAKING NEWS

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Reasons to be Happy by Katrina Kittle (Review and Giveaway)

Reasons to Be Happy by Katrina Kittle (Rated: C)
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
ISBN: 978-1402260209
Published Oct 2011
Paperback, 288 pages

As I began to read this book, it quickly became apparent that it was not a light, fluffy read. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but it definitely surpassed my expectation of a cute YA book. Hannah is the daughter of two gorgeous movie star parents. She lives in Los Angeles and is about to begin eighth grade after the summer. But then things change. She is transferred to a private school, her mother gets cancer and suddenly Hannah loses herself. She is no longer the bold and fun girl who “jumps in with both feet”. Now she sees herself as ugly and fat, afraid of speaking up, especially when she gets in with a group of nasty, fashionista girls.

In essence, Reasons to Be Happy is about a young girl who copes with her stress by becoming bulimic. She binges on food and then throws it all up. I knew a few things about eating disorders before reading this book, but Kittle does an amazing job of bringing the horrors of bulimia to life through the story of Hannah. It was an eye-opener for me. It was also hard to read at times because I really felt for Hannah and all the new hard changes in her life she had to adapt to. I empathized and understood her pain and her need to find a way to cope.

Kittle does not mince words or skim the surface of bulimia. She paints a realistic portrait. It's clear the author wants to warn young girls from the dangers of eating disorders. Through Hannah's journey, which also takes her to Ghana, Africa, we see her struggle to let go of this addiction and we rejoice with her even in the smallest of successes. Hannah also keeps a list of reasons to be happy, which gives the reader insight into her thoughts. It changes as she changes. And it's a beautiful list, reminding us that there are many reasons to be happy, from the feel of “cat purr vibrating through your skin” to “dancing like an idiot when no one is watching.”

As a parent, I appreciated reading this book for its insightful topic and its honest portrayal of a teen in crisis. It was well-written and had me anxiously turning the pages as my heart ached for Hannah, but also shared in her triumph of winning a hard battle and finding herself again.

I was really intrigued as to what the author had to say about the topic of her book. So I asked her a few questions and she was gracious and kind enough to answer them. Here is a short interview with Katrina Kittle:

LCR: Welcome to Library of Clean Reads, Katrina!

KK: Thanks so much for hosting me, Laura. I really appreciate the opportunity.

LCR: You tackle the topic of bulimia in this book, which is not an easy one to do. Some scenes were hard to read as they were honest and forthright about this eating disorder. Was there a specific reason why you chose to explore this topic?

KK: I'd studied classical ballet very seriously when I was younger, so I'd seen firsthand some varying levels of eating disorders. Then, when I was teaching middle school and high school, I had the experience of working with therapists and parents when my students fell into such behavior as well. I've long been fascinated with all kinds of addiction, and, really, an eating disorder is a kind of addiction. Often, the girl will want to stop the behavior but feels powerless to do so. I found that the majority of people don't understand eating disorders at all, and there's often disdain, impatience, and judgement thrown at girls with bulimia and anorexia. There's this pervasive sense of, “Well, why don't you just eat?” or “Why don't you just stop binging?” as if it's a matter of will power only. 

Like all addictions, the only way to stop it is to truly examine and explore why it began and what the person is getting from it. Until you recognize the source, or the need it fills, treatment will be very ineffective. It's necessary to find something else to fill that same need…but that's not possible until you know what it is. Eating disorders are just that: disorders. It's very complicated psychology. So, while I say I'm fascinated with addictions, I think I'm mostly fascinated by stories of human resilience. I think all my books share that theme. I'm interested in stories about the way people have been broken, but then become stronger at those broken places. I was inspired to capture the resilience of students I'd seen come through an eating disorder on the other side (which can take years and years), and possibly stop further girls from having to go through that horror at all.

LCR: I loved reading Hannah’s experiences in Africa. Are her adventures based on your own trip to Africa?

KK: Yes, they are! And I'm so glad you loved reading about them. I had the amazing gift of traveling with a group of high school students to Ghana, Togo, and Benin, in West Africa. It was a life-altering experience for me. Many of Hannah's reactions to the sensory overload of Africa were mine! I was enthralled by the voodoo markets, intimidated by the bartering over prices, and yes, I really did have a night like Hannah's in the village of Tafi Atome (I don't want to spoil anything...but right down to the “creative” use of a plastic grocery bag and the surprise guest!). The scene where the village chief teaches Hannah to bargain actually happened to me, and I still have that gorgeous piece of purple and white kente cloth. By the end of the trip, I was bargaining like a master! 

The food, the school in Tafi Atome, and the lost brass figures are all real...as are those pesky, noisy Mona monkeys (one stole my sunglasses). I did meet a beautiful young woman named Modesta, but the story of her life in Reasons to Be Happy is entirely fictional. I think it can be a real life-shifter for well-off, privileged American students to be immersed, even if briefly, in a third world culture. It's impossible to take our many luxuries for granted afterward. It's also impossible not to come away from a trip like that without realizing how happy we can be with so much less than we thought we needed. There is a photo album of my Africa trip on my website. 

LCR: Thank you, Katrina, for sharing all this with me and my readers! 

For more info on Katrina and her book, visit:
www.katrinakittle.com
Twitter: @katrinakittle
There's a hash-tag—#reasonstobehappy—for your tweeting purposes.
http://katrinakittle.blogspot.com/
(Reasons to Be Happy Blog, lists a reason to be happy everyday)

And now for the giveaway!
Sourcebooks is offering a copy of Reasons to Be Happy to one of my readers. Entering is easy:
Giveaway Rules:
Mandatory:
1) Leave a comment as to why you want to win this book and include an email address.

Extra entries:
Each extra entry MUST be a separate comment or it will not count.
1) If you are a follower, new or current, leave a comment telling me so.
2) Like me on Facebook and leave me a comment telling me you did.
3) Follow me on Twitter and leave me a comment telling me you did.

*Buttons for following found on top left-hand corner of blog.
*Giveaway ends Oct 26, 2011.
*Giveaway open to Canada and US.
*Please read my Giveaway Policy before entering my giveaways.

I will count this book toward the following challenges:  YA Reading Challenge

Disclosure: Thanks to Sourcebooks for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.

Share this:

20 comments :

  1. Great review Laura and thanks for hosting this give away.

    I would love to win because this book has been on my wishlist for awhile now. Not only is the cover pretty but its also got a message behind it and its a very important message. I think too many girls are worried that its what is on the outside that counts and they will go to any extreme to get what society thinks.

    CindysloveofbooksarcATgmailDOTcom

    ReplyDelete
  2. This profound book is unique and captivating. What a wonderful interview. Many thanks. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is an interesting insight. You assume having Hollywood parents would make for a happy life but I think it is not always like that. I'd love to read this! Thanks!

    Margaret
    singitm@hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm a current follower

    Margaret
    singitm@hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  5. This novel sounds like it does an excellent job with a difficult subject!

    ReplyDelete
  6. What an informative interview! The book sounds amazing! I'd really like to read the book for myself to see how well you deal with such a serious issue :)

    jwitt33 at live dot com

    ReplyDelete
  7. I am a GFC follower: Julie Witt

    jwitt33 at live dot com

    ReplyDelete
  8. I like your FB page: Julie Witt

    jwitt33 at live dot com

    ReplyDelete
  9. I follow you on Twitter: @jwitt33

    jwitt33 at live dot com

    ReplyDelete
  10. I'm dying to read this one! I love Katrina Kittle.

    I already follow you through Google Reader.

    bookingmama(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  11. I follow you on twitter
    @bookingmama

    bookingmama(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  12. I also liked you on facebook.

    bookingmama(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  13. thanks for the chance to read this fun book :)

    karenk
    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
  14. i'm a follower, too :)

    karenk
    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
  15. I've read all of her books and would love to read this one as well. It's a departure for her and I'm so interested to see where it goes.

    mryward(at)yahoo(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  16. I'm an old (and I don't mean OLD) follower on GFC. (mamie316)

    mryward(at)yahoo(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  17. This is a book I could really see many of my students going for. : )

    margaret(dot)rainwater(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for commenting! I appreciate your feedback.

Love audiobooks?

 
Back To Top
Copyright © 2009-2017 Laura Fabiani Library of Clean Reads . Designed by OddThemes OddThemes