Welcome to the Q&A article of our Nerds and Beyond Book Club! This month, we read More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera. The book follows 16-year-old Aaron Soto, who’s struggling to find happiness after the death of his father, with the support of his girlfriend. Once he thinks he’s finally reached normality again, he meets Thomas, who causes Aaron to question his newfound feelings. Aaron then considers turning to the Leteo Institute for a memory altering procedure, even it means forgetting who he is in the process.
We had our Book Club answer some questions after reading the book! Here’s what they had to say:
What was your initial reaction to the book?
Tayvhon (@TayvhonPierce): My initial reaction was intrigued. From what I had heard about Adam Silvera and his books, I had an expectation of a coming-of-age gay love story. Boy was I highly mistaken, and I knew that from the first page when the Leteo Institute was introduced.
Julia (@jahooliaa): I was immediately enthralled by the story and Aaron. I didn’t know anything about Adam Silvera or his books, and initially read MHTN because my friend wanted me to read it with him. I was intrigued by the Eternal Sunshine-esque vibe of the Leteo Institute, and the idea that in order to find happiness, you had to forget part of who you are.
Nicole (@nicmanz15): My initial reaction was that it was going to be a complete sci-fi/futuristic story but was pleasantly surprised that the Leteo Institute and their procedure did not seem too futuristic, and the story felt like the events could take place today. My other reaction while reading the book was definitely surprise, because even though Leteo was discussed in the first half of the book, and Aaron was even deciding to get the procedure, I was shocked that he already went through with the procedure before the book even started!
What scene stood out the most to you?
Tayvhon (@TayvhonPierce): Anytime I think about the book, I think about the pain. The most painful scene to me was when Aaron was thrown through the window by his friends, but the build up to that was so heart-wrenching. When he remembered the nature of how is dad died, that’s the scene that convinced me to read everything Adam Silvera.
Julia (@jahooliaa): I really love the scene where Aaron comes out to Thomas. I always read Aaron as a fairly closed off person, so his willingness to open up to someone he still didn’t know very well showed how much he had come to trust Thomas and the importance of his friendship. I also liked how Thomas didn’t make a big deal about it. He listened to Aaron and offered his thoughts to make it a little easier for Aaron to talk through.
Nicole (@nicmanz15): The scene that stood out the most to me was towards the end when Evangeline tells Aaron he has anterograde amnesia. Up until that point, I thought (and hoped!) the book was going to end with my idea of happiness for Aaron, everything working out with Collin, Thomas, and Genevieve, or maybe a flash-forward to the future with a new guy he meets and everything works out. However, during that scene, it finally struck me that my version of a happy ending for Aaron wasn’t going to happen completely, and I would have to settle for him being at least “more happy than not.”
If you could undergo the Leteo procedure, would you?
Tayvhon (@TayvhonPierce): I would never undergo the Leteo procedure. I am a strong believer that as people we are only what our experiences make us — both good and bad. Therefore, losing your memory of something that happened or something about yourself would mean you were giving up a piece of what made you you. I would fear never knowing who I truly was without that piece.
Julia (@jahooliaa): I wouldn’t undergo the treatment, because in the grand scheme of things, it wouldn’t be worth the headache. There’s no guarantee that the procedure would stick, and even if it did, there’s no guarantee I wouldn’t make the same choices — good, bad, and everything in between — I made before that led to me being me. Everything we do makes us who we are, and using Leteo to forget would only mean losing part of ourselves.
Nicole (@nicmanz15): No, I would not. First of all, the side effect of anterograde amnesia, no thank you!! Second, I hold the belief that no matter what happens in life — good, bad, painful — are what make us who we are. Yes we change every day, even every hour, because we’re constantly having new experiences and making new memories, but these changes just build on who we are. If we take some of it away, are we ourselves still?
Do you think the characters were able to find happiness?
Tayvhon (@TayvhonPierce): I think the characters found ways of coping; ways of accepting their situations and wanting to move on. In a way, that is a sort of happiness. You can’t find it if you constantly allow the things in your life that you have no control over to weigh you down. So, in short, I think they are on the road to it.
Julia (@jahooliaa): I think they were able to find contentment with moments of happiness. They never really seemed genuinely happy to me, and I don’t think any of the characters, main or secondary, were ever really striving for true happiness. They took the bad with the good, but never seemed to let it run their lives. I think Aaron wanted to be as close to true happiness as he could, but understood that because of everything he endured, it would be difficult to be completely happy.
Nicole (@nicmanz15): I do think the characters were able to find their own kind happiness, whether that was by the book’s end or in the characters’ futures. However, it’s not the happy-ending type of happiness I wished for them … but the whole idea of being “more happy than not” is more realistic than the “happy-ending story” kind, which I think is why the ending affected me on a more deeper level; it’s a more honest representation of life and reality.
If you want to participate in our Book Club, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with “Book Club” in the subject line. We’ll be emailing out discussion questions to be posted in an article at the end of each month.
We will be posting our book for October soon, so make sure to check back and join us!