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The Pursuit of Happiness by Tara Altebrando

March 31st, 2006 (09:12 am)
hopeful

Current Mood: hopeful
Current Song: I Wanna Be Loved by You as sung by Blanche Deveraux

In this dramatic and engaging story, a teenage girl named Betsy is grief-stricken when her mother loses her battle with cancer. Though Betsy typically gets along well with her younger brother and father, her mother's death causes the family members to pull apart quietly, each dealing with the loss in his or her own way.

Summer has a lot of other changes in store for Betsy. Her boyfriend dumps her shortly after her mother's funeral. Her best friend Mary may not be her best friend any longer. Her job at the colonial village, where she has to dress up and play the part of the dutiful daughter, becomes more intriguing due to her co-workers Liza (complete with piercings and a bad reputation) and James (apprentice by day, surfer by night). She also finds herself with a new hobby: cutting silhouettes out of paper.

As Betsy struggles with the five stages of grief, she occasionally falters, then later regrets what she said or did. Altebrando infuses her main character with a strong spirit. Betsy never stops trying to get back on her feet, and readers will cheer her on.

This book moves along at a steady pace, with a first-person narrative enabling the reader to get inside Betsy's head. The coming-of-age tale greatly benefits from the summertime setting. The realistic dialogue will meet the approval of teen and adult readers.

Tara Altebrando has written a wonderful tale about love, loss, family, and finding yourself. This is definitely one of the best books I've read this year (see my Best Books of 2006 booklist) and I highly recommend it. If you enjoy The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen, The Alison Rules by Catherine Clark, or Good Grief by Lolly Winston, you will definitely enjoy The Pursuit of Happiness.

Read the first chapter online.

Related Posts at Bildungsroman
Review: Love Will Tear Us Apart by Tara Altebrando (as Tara McCarthy)
Review: What Happens Here by Tara Altebrando
Review: Dreamland Social Club by Tara Altebrando
Review: The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life by Tara Altebrando
Interview: Tara Altebrando (March 2006)
Interview: Tara Altebrando (August 2006)
Interview: Tara Altebrando (November 2012)
Tough Issues for Teens Booklist