Happy for You by Claire Stanford
Publication Date: 19 April 2022
⭐ A Jennesaisreads Starred Review ⭐
Deeply introspective and insightful, Claire Stanford’s debut novel, Happy for You, forces us to take a good, hard look at the concept of happiness and how, or even if, it can be measured. Half Jewish and half Japanese, Evelyn Kominsky Kumamoto is fully immersed in a quarter-life crisis as she wrestles with her identity as a bi-racial woman and struggles to decide what she really wants for her future. Her philosophy dissertation sits unfinished, a marriage proposal from her boyfriend seems imminent and inevitable, and her study of emotions seems to have done nothing to help her understand her own. A job offer from the third-most-popular internet company lures her away from her life in academia with an interesting premise: what if we could measure happiness? What if we could truly understand it and then quantify it, package it in an app, and help people achieve more of it?
For me, Happy for You is a small slice of literary perfection. The majority of the books I read are light-hearted romances, and this book was a nice palate cleanser in between all of that fluffy, cotton candy sweetness. The story is beautifully philosophical and forces the reader to truly consider the nature of happiness. It demands that we evaluate how our views of happiness have been skewed by the ways in which we feed the digital monster, and how it catalogs us and then spits back images of how we should be feeling, acting, and the kind of life we should want.
I have e a couple of suggestions for you. First, read this book. It is beautiful and witty and thought-provoking. Secondly, before you dive into this story, please do not read anything more than the blurb. The “unexpected development” referenced therein is, for me, the heart and soul of this novel, and going into it blind, as I did, will bring your overall enjoyment of it to the next level.
Congratulations to Claire Stanford on her stunning debut, and I look forward to reading much more from this author. And thank you to Viking Books for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.